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Nobody loves getting their teeth checked and worked on, but it’s a necessity if you want to maintain your health. If you’ve recently been to the dentist and now you’re visiting an orthodontist like, you may be wondering why you need another round of x-rays. Whether you’re getting an Invisalign treatment or you need a serious jaw problem fixed, you may need to have an x-ray taken. Here’s what to expect.
What Is an X-Ray?
An x-ray, also called a radiograph, is an image that’s created when a radiation beam passes through the body and to a sensor. On old x-ray machines, the radiation would hit film. X-rays are able to create images that show how dense the tissues in the mouth are. Also, the shadows that are cast show if there’s an object that can’t be seen with the naked eye.
Some people are concerned with the safety of x-rays and don’t want to expose themselves to harm. For this reason, many will avoid having necessary dental work done, which could result in more serious and painful teeth and jaw problems. Truthfully, even three x-rays throughout the scope of dental treatment exposes the patient to less radiation than they’d get on just one airline flight.
X-Rays in Dentistry vs. Orthodontics
Your orthodontist may use x-rays for the same reasons why a general dentist would use them. A bitewing x-ray shows a detailed image of a group of teeth, letting the medical professional see how healthy the enamel, roots and canals are. Fillings and enamel, which are dense, will appear white on the x-ray. Bone, root canals and decay aren’t nearly as dense and thus will appear darker.
While an orthodontist is not a dentist, they may be focused on the same things as a dentist, like identifying any present mouth problems, such as tumors and abscesses. Their main goal isn’t always straightening the teeth; sometimes there are more serious issues that need to be dealt with. Sometimes, these pathologies are first identified by the orthodontist, not the dentist.
Diagnosing and Treating Orthodontic Problems
X-rays can help to diagnose and treat orthodontic issues. These x-rays will often focus on the form and position of the jaws and teeth, not necessarily on individual teeth or bitewings. The teeth issues that are of most interest are missing or extra teeth, impacted teeth, or roots that are misshapen in some way. Jaw problems may include bones that are too large, too small, off-center, far apart or too close together. The x-ray offers important information to help the medical professional figure out where the problem is originating from and, in turn, how to best correct it. The x-ray will show the size, position and shape of the bone and teeth, helping to determine if extraction or surgery is necessary.
Monitoring Treatment and Progress
An x-ray may be taken throughout treatment to measure how well the treatment is working. Effects of orthodontic treatment may not be obvious without the help of an x-ray. For example, in about 2% of people, moving teeth can make the roots shorter. It’s important to regularly check how treatment is progressing; if the teeth movement is causing a root problem, the doctor will need to know when to stop moving the teeth.
Also, taking x-rays will help the doctor to finalize the treatment strategy. For example, many doctors will want to avoid removing permanent teeth whenever possible. If there’s a slight crowding problem with the teeth, they’ll start to be aligned and then the teeth and bone will be watched to see how well they respond. If an x-ray reveals that there isn’t enough bone to fit all of the teeth, some teeth may need to be removed. The x-ray could also show that there is enough bone, which would let the doctor avoid having to remove any teeth.
Once treatment has concluded, an x-ray will help the doctor to evaluate how successful the treatment was. They’ll then be able to make recommendations for followup procedures. For example, wisdom teeth may need to be removed. It’s not uncommon for successive dental treatments to be required. However, it’s probable that you would know about all of the treatments before beginning the first once. The exception would be if something goes wrong with your treatment and a followup treatment is required to fix the resulting problem.
A Sample X-Ray Schedule
Many doctors will take one x-ray before treatment begins to assess the problem. They’ll then take another x-ray approximately six months after treatment to assess the progress. This is what would normally happen in long-term treatment, like if the patient is wearing braces or Invisalign. Then, a final x-ray would be taken once treatment is over (i.e. once the braces comes off). If the treatment is especially long, you may need another mid-treatment x-ray taken to monitor progress.
A majority of dental professionals are careful to not over-use x-rays. They’ll only take x-rays when it’s absolutely necessary in order to reduce the risk of harm as much as possible. When in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor why they’re taking another x-ray. If you recently had your dentist take an x-ray, it’s possible that your doctor can use that x-ray instead of taking a new one.
Contact Us Today for an Appointment
Nothing is going to change about your smile until you take action. Call today to learn more about what the best orthodontist in Nashville TN can offer you. Enjoy the professional and inviting atmosphere at Gluck Orthodontics as you are welcomed into the office. Dr. Gluck and his staff will strive to make you comfortable and keep you well-informed about all of your orthodontic options.
Remember that your choice to have orthodontic treatment will give you a boost of confidence and make your smile shine. You’ll also be able to have better oral hygiene and avoid problems like TMJ disorders due to a poor bite or misalignment of your teeth. Dr. Gluck is here for you to bring out the best in your smile. Make your appointment today.
Gluck Orthodontics – Nashville Orthodontist
2002 Richard Jones Road, Suite A-200 Nashville, TN 37215
Dr. Joel Gluck has practiced orthodontics since 1983 when he opened his own office in Nashville. He earned his undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis, and his dental degree at the University of Tennessee. Dr. Gluck then completed an orthodontic specialty residency at the University of Michigan, one of the top five orthodontic training residencies in the country. He also wrote an original thesis and received a Master of Science degree.