Orthodontic radiographs, commonly known as x-rays, are an essential tool for proper orthodontic diagnosis and treatment planning, as they allow your orthodontist to visualise the jawbones, tooth roots and internal tooth structure.
What sort of x-rays do I need?
For orthodontic treatment, we require two types of x-ray, a panoramic radiograph (OPG) and a Lateral Cephalogram. We’ll refer for these just prior to your appointment, so we can give you the most accurate assessment possible. Without these x-rays, we can only give you half the story.
An OPG displays the upper and lower jaws and teeth, sinuses, nasal cavity and jaw joints in a two-dimensional format. An enormous amount of information is derived from an OPG including:
- Missing teeth
- Extra teeth
- Impacted teeth (teeth blocked from eruption)
- Ectopic teeth (teeth growing in the wrong position)
- Pathology such as cysts, abscesses, and rarely more serious tumours
- Root shape and length
- Bone loss due to gum disease
- Large dental cavities
- Jaw joint anatomy
A lateral cephalogram gives us a profile view of your face, underlying skeletal structure and teeth. A detailed tracing and analysis of this image provides the orthodontist with information critical for treatment planning. This includes:
- Growth direction of the jaws
- Vertical facial structure
- The relationship of the upper and lower jaws to each other
- Angulation of the incisor (front) teeth
- The bite, especially that of the front teeth
- Profile analysis
- Airway assessment
- Skeletal maturation
The information gathered, in conjunction with a clinical examination enables the orthodontist to determine whether the bite problem is caused by a mismatch in the size of the upper and lower jawbones, the position of the teeth or a combination of the two. Once this is determined, an accurate diagnosis and possible treatment options can be provided.
Occasionally, after reviewing these x-rays, a more detailed 3-D x-ray, referred to as a Cone Beam CT is necessary. These images are useful when teeth are impacted or stuck in the jaw bone as the problematic tooth to be accurately located in all three planes of space.