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Cephalometric X-rays

A cephalometric X-ray is a specialized tool that allows the dentist to capture a comprehensive radiographic image of the face’s side. In general, X-rays provide the dentist with a better way to examine the teeth, jawbone, and tissues that can not be seen with the naked eye.

Cephalometric X-rays are extraoral, where no plates or film is needed to be inserted inside the mouth. Often missed by intraoral bitewing X-rays, the cephalometric and panoramic X-rays display the nasal and sinus passages.

The panoramic X-ray machine usually takes the cephalometric X-rays.

The modified machine has a unique cephalometric film holder mounted on a mechanical arm. An X-ray image receptor is used to ionize radiation to provide the dentist with pictures of the entire oral structure. The benefit of both cephalometric and panoramic X-rays is that the body will be less exposed to radiation.

Cephalometric X-rays are not as standard as “full sets” or bitewing X-rays, but they serve several essential purposes:

  • To supply views of the side profile of the face.
  • To provide statements of the jaw concerning the cheekbone.
  • To report about malocclusions.
  • Enable measurement of the teeth.
  • Classify fractures and other traumas to the teeth and jawbone.
  • Assists in orthodontic preparation.


How Are Cephalometric X-rays Taken?

Cephalometric X-rays are quick, easy, and completely painless. The head part is placed within the mechanical rotating unit and the film holder (set on another arm). The arm pivots around the head, taking images of the face, mouth, and teeth. The accuracy and sharpness of these images will depend on the position. The photos are usually magnified up to 30% to show any signs of decay, disease, or injury.

Following the capturing cephalometric X-rays, the dentist will be able to view a complete side profile. The photos can assist in orthodontic planning and allow an immediate evaluation of how braces might impact the facial face and teeth. If you have any questions or concerns, ask us and let us know what we can do to help.