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Cephalometric X-rays

The cephalometric X-ray is a unique tool that enables the orthodontist to capture a complete radiographic image of the side of the face.  X-rays in general offer the orthodontist a way to view the teeth, jawbone, and soft tissues beyond what can be seen with the naked eye.  Cephalometric X-rays are extraoral, meaning that no plates or film are inserted inside the mouth. Cephalometric and panoramic X-rays display the nasal and sinus passages, which are missed by intraoral bitewing X-rays.

Cephalometric X-rays are not as common as “full sets” or bitewing X-rays, but they serve several important functions:

  • Provide views of the side profile of the face.
  • Provide views of the jaw in relation to the cheekbone.
  • Provide information about “bad bites” or malocclusions.
  • Allow measurement of the teeth.
  • Allow measurements of the jaws which aid in growth prediction.
  • Assists in orthodontic planning.

How are cephalometric X-rays taken?

Cephalometric X-rays are completely painless. The head is placed between the mechanical sliding arm that holds the film and another fixed arm.  The arm slides next to the head capturing images of the face, mouth, and teeth.  The clarity and sharpness of these images will depend on the positioning of the body.

After capturing cephalometric X-rays, the orthodontist will be able to see a complete side profile of the head. This can assist in orthodontic planning and allow an immediate evaluation of how braces might impact the facial profile and teeth.  Another common use for this type of X-ray is to determine specific measurements which aid in 'growth forecasting'.

If you have any questions or concerns about cephalometric X-rays, please do not hesitate to ask.