It is a common misconception that orthodontic care is all about the teeth. But it is as much about the gums, jaws, and roots as the teeth. Diagnostic X-rays are a vital part of orthodontic practice, and taking an X-ray allows your orthodontists to analyze problems with jaw bones and tooth roots and create a treatment plan best suited for your needs.
What Can Dental X-Rays Diagnose?
An orthodontist performs an oral examination to check for any pre-existing tooth or jaw problems. Taking an X-ray further to diagnose the underlying condition of the roots and bones is a part of this.
A dental X-ray can diagnose a host of issues:
- Missing, damaged, or misplaced teeth
- Deformed roots or roots that are too short or long
- Problems with asymmetry in jawbones
Most patients coming for orthodontic treatments wonder why their old dental X-rays don’t suffice. It is because regular dental X-rays do not provide all the information necessary for orthodontic treatment.
Dental X-Ray Vs. Orthodontic X-ray
Dental X-rays can be divided into two types.
These are used as preventative measures. It is a set of four X-rays that present details of the teeth in a particular area of your mouth. The word bitewing refers to the wing-shaped contraption that the patient has to bite down on from how patients must bite down on the X-ray film.
In addition to the exposed portion of the tooth, there is also the root and the bone that supports the tooth. This kind of X-ray reveals decay between teeth or below the gum line, and it also shows if there is any change in bone density caused by periodontal diseases.
These are similar to Bitewing X-rays, except here, the X-ray reveals the tooth entirely- from the crown to a little past the root. They can reveal issues with the jawbone or root damage.
The fillings and enamel appear thicker and white on the radiograph in the above X-rays. The bone, roots, and decay (if any) appear darker.
In addition to the above, an orthodontist may use several other types of X-rays.
As suggested by the name, this type of X-ray shows the entire array of teeth in a single image, complete with your upper and lower teeth. This 2D image of your teeth helps your orthodontist analyze dental work done in the past or diagnose any complications.
It also gives your orthodontist information regarding the bone and sinus structures. Although this X-ray does not provide close details of your teeth, it is excellent for an overall survey. This X-ray is used before applying braces of any kind.
A Cephalometric X-ray is also called a lateral skull X-ray. It allows orthodontists to capture a full image of the side of the face, including a profile view of the skull. It not only gives a view of the teeth but also enables them to view the jaws, soft tissues, and teeth that aren’t visible otherwise.
In order to determine how well the teeth and jawbones fit together, orthodontists commonly use a Cephalometric projection. They can then design a treatment plan based on this information. It can also be used to see the throat structure, detect complications, and even diagnose sleep apnea.
A dental cone beam computed tomography scan, also known as the CT scan or Cat scan, is an imaging method that uses computerized technology to produce 3D images of your teeth. They give in-depth information about your teeth, bone structure, nerves, and tissues that a regular X-ray can’t.
It accurately diagnoses any concerns that the patient might be facing. It leads to better results and lesser complications in treatment.
How Does An X-Ray Help Orthodontists?
The primary reason orthodontists take X-rays is for the development of treatment strategies and to monitor progress. However, as seen above, there are several other reasons for taking X-rays, like looking for pathologies like cavities, missing teeth, gum problems, cysts, or even cancer.
Most orthodontic treatments, be it braces or other devices that require aligning your bite, require meticulous planning. And X-rays are a great way of maximizing the effectiveness of the treatment.
X-rays give orthodontists a deep understanding of your dental structure and pre-existing conditions. They help predict how your teeth shift or other difficulties that may crop up during the treatment as these factors impact the treatment duration.
X-rays are an integral part of any orthodontic treatment, and the process involves high levels of precision and accuracy. If you are looking for excellent results, you must provide the specialist with the required X-rays. It ensures your treatment progresses well. Discuss with your orthodontist the necessity of the X-rays before the beginning of treatment.
Why Do Orthodontists Need to X-Ray?
Dr. Bill Redmond is a native of Southern California, the son of an orthodontist and the husband of a general dentist. That makes family gatherings pretty interesting…if you like teeth!