What Are Orthodontic Records?

These Records Can Make a Difference in Your Oral Health

dental x-ray
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Your dentist or orthodontist has your orthodontic records on file, but what exactly are they? Orthodontic records are uses by dentists and orthodontists are a sort of study aid to provide patients with the best, individualized orthodontic treatment plan possible.

When a patient becomes a candidate for orthodontic treatment, their dentist considers their records when assembling a treatment plan. The dentist or orthodontist will put together all of the patient's potential treatment options.

Orthodontic records can also be taken throughout the course of treatment to track progress over time, and they also become part of a patient's dental records. Here are four different types of orthodontic records:

Dental Impressions

Also known as alginate impressions, dental impressions are used to obtain an accurate replica of a patient's mouth. Models of the mouth are made by pouring stone into the set impression material. These study models are used by the dentist to examine the current position of the patient's teeth and predict the future relationship between the upper and lower teeth. Study models are also used as a permanent record by the dentist, kept on file as part of your patient records.

Panoramic X-Ray

panoramic X-ray, also known as a panorex or pan, is two-dimensional and displays the upper and lower jaws and teeth in the same piece of film. A panoramic X-ray is useful for adolescent patients, in particular, because the dentist can see the developing teeth and predict where they will erupt in the mouth.

Patients that are experiencing a delay in the eruption of their teeth will require this X-ray at an earlier age in order to rule out missing or impacted teeth. Adult patients that are considering orthodontic treatment will typically have this X-ray taken for the dentist to see the current health and level of the jaw bone.

Cephalometric X-Ray 

The cephalometric X-ray, or ceph for short, is an X-ray that captures the side profile of the patient from the top of their head to just below the tip of the chin. The ceph includes the teeth and bone, and soft tissues are also distinguishable, which helps the dentist or orthodontist predict how the bone structure will change during orthodontic treatment. The dentist or orthodontist will use tracing paper and trace the ceph using important landmarks on the X-ray.

Intraoral & Extraoral Photos

Intraoral (inside the mouth) and extraoral (outside the mouth) photos are taken of the patient's teeth and face. These photos are used to determine the current external classification of the patient's profile, as well as a permanent record to keep on file as a part of the patient's dental records.


Australian Society of Orthodontists - "Orthodontic Treatment"

Stuart A. Greene DDS - "Types of X-Rays"

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