Happy Birthday, X-Rays!

Accidents happen, and sometimes they are for the better. If you take a wrong turn or something doesn’t go as planned, keep in mind that today marks 121 years since X-rays were accidentally discovered.

They say that everything happens for a reason, and sometimes that reason can be a medical miracle.  This amazing discovery changed not only the medical world as a whole, but also the possibilities of orthodontics. X-rays play a huge part in the treatment plan that is developed for orthodontic patients. So it is no accident that Melbourne Orthodontics is extremely excited about this day in history.

Exactly 121 years ago, Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen, a German physicist, was running tests in his lab using cathode rays and glass. He noticed that a chemically treated screen was emitting an odd glow after being exposed to the rays. He called the result X-rays because he did not know exactly what they were. The name stuck and shortly after, X-rays were used to find bullets in war soldiers, examine broken bones, and be researched even further to increase the abilities of X-rays.

Rontgen’s discovery improved the medical field drastically. Because of X-rays, doctors are able to see inside a living human body with no pain. The rays are able to pass through skin and muscle tissues, but are not able to pass through bone. The result is an image that can be photographed and examined, offering a great deal of information that can improve medical treatment and save lives.

Why are X-Rays important for Orthodontics?

Before any orthodontic treatment is performed, Dr. Reddick will have X-rays of all patients mouths taken. The X-rays provide an image of all teeth, their roots, and their positioning inside of the mouth. Adjustments of the teeth and jaw are heavily influenced by X-rays because they have the ability to show what is not visible by just looking in the mouth.

Commonalities that Orthodontic X-rays reveal are impacted teeth, misshaped roots, missing teeth, and size of jaw bones. These things are not visible to the naked eye and the X-rays give Dr. Reddick the opportunity to diagnose the issue and treat it accordingly.

X-rays are also used to monitor progress while Orthodontic treatment is going on. More often than not, the effects of braces are hard to see just by looking at a smile. Placing X-rays side by side is the most effective way to really see the results of braces and how they straighten and adjust not only the visible teeth, but the roots and entire jaw structure as well.

When braces have done their job and orthodontic treatment has come to an end for a patient, X-rays are taken of the final result. These X-rays are a great way for patients to really see how far they have come during the treatment and realize what a huge difference the braces have made to their smile as well as their entire mouth and jaw.

Are X-Rays bad for you?

It took a while for X-rays to be researched beyond just the great medical possibilities they offer. They were originally thought of to be just the same as a photograph, with no negative outcome of the light whatsoever. It is true that X-rays emit a small amount of radiation.

Fortunately, the science surrounding X-rays has been growing ever since this very day 121 years ago and improving to keep the best interests of patients in mind. All dentists are taught to use the “As Little As Reasonably Achievable” principle when administering X-rays to patients. That means that patients only receive X-rays when necessary. The X-ray machines that are used now are much different than the ones used 100 years ago. They emit the smallest amount of radiation in order to capture the image, and are not considered dangerous to the average patient’s health.

The heavy capes that are placed on patients during X-rays of the mouth are one way that dentists and doctors make sure that they are only sending X-rays to the necessary area and nowhere else. This reduces the radiation to other parts of the body and helps ensure patients safety.

X-rays are an amazing discovery that have had a very positive effect on the world of Orthodontics. At Melbourne Orthodontics, we are very pleased with the scientific accident that made it possible to see the impossible, and give patients a beautiful smile as the result!