Why Do Orthodontists Use X-Rays?

You may have heard of x-rays or even received one at the doctor’s office, but have you ever wondered exactly what they are? This standard orthodontic tool at Backus Orthodontics is one of the many ways to see what is going on internally within your teeth and jaw. It helps us understand how to help you best reach your smile goals and the most effective methods to get there. Read on to learn more about why orthodontists use x-rays!


What Exactly are X-Rays?

Also referred to as a dental radiograph, x-rays are a diagnostic tool our office uses to understand your body’s internal activity. Dr. Backus uses them to learn as much as possible about your teeth and jaw’s current alignment, roots, and bone structure. Electromagnetic waves are emitted from the machine we use to capture these images, using small amounts of radiation to pull back the curtain on your bone and tissue.

How are Dental and Orthodontic X-rays Different? 

Dental x-rays focus on oral complications, including roots, teeth growth, decay, and cavities. This is very important for Dr. Backus to be aware of, but he may need more information that an orthodontic x-ray can capture, such as your current alignment.

Most patients who attend bi-yearly dental cleanings will have one taken then. If you have had one taken in the past six months, we encourage you to bring it into your free consultation. Otherwise, our team will need to take a more recent one to ensure we reference the latest information while creating your treatment plan. 

What Information Do They Provide?

This non-invasive process provides our team with a wealth of information necessary to determine what orthodontic treatment is required and the most effective way of getting there. We also use them to monitor your progress throughout orthodontic care to ensure your teeth are moving in the correct direction.

Are They Dangerous At All?

X-rays are completely safe! The amount of information our team can learn from this process allows us to put together your unique treatment plan and benefits your long-term health. As they only take a few minutes, you are exposed to minimal amounts of radiation that are being combated with the safety measures we take to protect you, including wearing a lead apron.

However, Dr. Backus will only recommend taking one when essential to prevent any unnecessary exposure.


Why Do Orthodontists Use X-Rays?

The Types of X-Rays Taken


The first type of X-ray we take is known as panoramic. Like a panoramic photo you take on your phone, it gives us a wide angle of your jaw, alignment, teeth, and joints. This information helps us better understand your current development to create a comprehensive plan.


More commonly referred to as the orthodontic x-ray, the second type we capture is called the cephalometric. This radiograph gives us an exceptionally detailed view of your lower and upper jaw. We are able to see how they interact with each other and learn more about the relationship of your facial bones. Such an intricate perspective helps us understand how your teeth typically work, which is vital in preparing your treatment.


Explaining the Procedure

Set Up and Safety Precautions

The first step in preparing for your x-ray is providing you with safety gear. Even with minimal risk, we take every precaution to keep you protected by placing a lead apron over your head to prevent radiation from reaching areas of your body that do not participate in the x-ray. 

You will also be asked to remove metal objects from yourself, such as jewelry, hearing aids, hair clips, and glasses, to prevent a warped image.

Leading You Into Position

Next, our treatment coordinator will assist you in positioning yourself perfectly so our machine has a perfect view of your teeth and jaw. They will ensure you are set before we begin so that you will be finished in just a few minutes.

Taking the X-Ray

The hardest part is already over! Now, all you need to do is stay still as our team sets up the machine to take the necessary images during this process. Once turned on, a focused beam of radiation is emitted toward your teeth, jaw, and any other area we need photos of. We will let you know when the machine is finished so you return to a normal position.

Looking Over Your Results

Your x-ray is complete! We will be happy to give you a look at your images before we pass them off to Dr. Backus for his expert review. Thanks to advancements in digital x-rays, your results will be quick and more precise than ever.


X-Ray Use Throughout Treatment

Backus Orthodontics will either take an updated x-ray of your teeth, most likely during your free consultation, or reference a recent one before officially beginning your treatment. As mentioned, Dr. Backus uses this information to carefully craft your unique treatment plan and determine where we want your teeth to be at the end of your time with us.

Only in rare cases will we suggest getting an x-ray in the middle of treatment; you may need one during the final phase or the last six to nine months so we can identify areas of your teeth that still need fine adjustments to reach the ideal positioning. 

Once treatment is complete, Dr. Backus will capture one final x-ray to ensure the work done to your bones and jaw on the inside matches what we can see from the outside. You can also compare the two scans from the beginning of your treatment to the end and see how much your teeth have improved!


Why Do Orthodontists Use X-Rays?

Begin Your Braces Treatment Today!

Our team at Backus Orthodontics are experts in capturing and analyzing x-rays to help you achieve your smile goals! We are always happy to answer any questions or concerns about the procedure before getting to the machine. Dr. Backus and our team are proud to serve the community of Hoover and those surrounding the area. Schedule your free consultation today to begin treatment!