In preparation for orthodontic treatment, your orthodontist will need to take you through a few small procedures, such as gathering impressions and inspecting your teeth. Additionally, they will also need to take x-rays of your jaw before you get started. While you’re likely used to getting x-rays if you’ve been to the dentist, you may be wondering why your orthodontist needs them.
What Are X-Rays?
X-rays, also known as radiographs, are a specialized method of gathering images for medical purposes. Specifically, x-rays allow practitioners to view what is underneath the skin. An x-ray works by sending safe levels of radiation through a part of the body. Denser tissues show up more on the x-ray, giving your orthodontist a good look at what’s under the surface of your gums.
Gathering x-rays doesn’t take much time and shouldn’t cause any discomfort at all.
Why Are X-Rays Important in Orthodontics?
While you’ll only notice the difference in your smile by looking at your straighter teeth, there’s a lot happening under the surface that your orthodontist is paying attention to. For one, x-rays will reveal if there is anything under your gums to be concerned about, such as impacted teeth, misshapen roots, or asymmetrical jawbones.
It’s also not just the start of treatment that will require x-rays. Your orthodontist will need to continue to monitor under the surface of your gums to assess your progress. What’s happening with the roots of your teeth can change the next phase of your treatment based on how the teeth are moving. In very rare cases, straightening teeth causes roots to shorten, so your orthodontist will need to do x-rays to make sure this is not happening.
It’s also worth noting that your orthodontist is one specialist out of other medical professionals that should be helping you stay healthy. An x-ray taken at the orthodontist office can reveal important things unrelated to orthodontics, such as abscesses or tumors. While this is also rare, orthodontists have been known to make discoveries that saved a patient’s life.
Once your braces are off or you’re done with Invisalign, you still won’t be done with x-rays. Your orthodontist will take an x-ray at the end of your treatment to make sure things are all in order both above and below the surface of your gums. Then you’ll need to wear a retainer so your teeth don’t move back to their original positions. Another way of ensuring your teeth are staying in place is by making a follow-up appointment to check on your teeth. Ideally, an x-ray will be taken a year after treatment to make sure everything is still in good condition.
When you visit us here at Smith Orthodontics for your free consultation, you’ll get an x-ray as part of your assessment. This will help us determine the best options for you and you’ll know what to expect if you decide to start treatment with us.