Oral Surgery Clinic at Bridle Trail Medical Centre
Tommy Fok and Edwin Chau
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

Cephalometric X-rays

The cephalometric X-ray is a unique tool, which enables Dr. Stephen Fitch to capture a complete radiographic image of the side of the face. X-rays in general offer the oral surgeon 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 X-rays.

Cephalometric X-rays are usually taken with a panoramic X-ray machine. The adapted machine will have a special cephalometric film holder mounted on a mechanical arm. An X-ray image receptor is exposed to ionizing radiation in order to provide the oral surgeon with pictures of the entire oral structure. The advantage of both cephalometric and panoramic X-rays is that the body is exposed to less radiation.

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.
  • Identify fractures and other injuries to the teeth and jawbone.
  • Assists in orthognathic surgery and implant treatment planning.

How are cephalometric X-rays taken?

Cephalometric X-rays are completely painless. The head is placed between the beam source and the film holder, which is placed on a fixed arm. The film captures 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, Dr. Stephen Fitch will be able to see a complete side profile of the head. This can assist in orthognathic surgery treatment planning, and allow an immediate evaluation of how proposed surgery might impact the facial profile and teeth. Another common use for this type of X-ray is to determine specific measurements prior to the placement of dental implants.

If you have any questions or concerns about cephalometric X-rays, please ask us.

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