HomePatient ResourcesCraniofacial GlossaryInnovative Investigation Tools Terms

Innovative Investigation Tools Terms

We need to understand everything possible about the structure of your child’s brain, skull,
bony and soft tissue facial structures, sensory structures, mouth and palate, the
arch-shaped dental ridge, how the jaws fit together…the list goes on. Today, technology
provides us with a tremendous variety of tools to see what’s going on.

Obviously, craniofacial differences during development can greatly affect the nose and
possibly change all of that. But don’t let those details intimidate you. The more you learn,
the more confident you’ll be in encouraging your child as we discuss and carry out related

Conditions in Dallas, TX


Refers to a soft, plaster-like material that firms up quickly and holds a specific shape well. While soft, we spread this onto a small arch-shaped mouth tray, put it into your child’s mouth, ask them to bite down, and after a few minutes, we remove the entire tray/plaster. This creates a very close impression of the upper and lower teeth and dental ridge; from this we make a model of their jaws on which we can plan our work. The algenate doesn’t taste very good, but it’s harmless and doesn’t stay in for long.

Articulation Test:

Refers to a spoken ‘evaluation’ that our Speech Pathologist gives your child, to determine how he or she is forming sounds.


Refers to a the record our Speech Pathologist makes of your child’s ability to hear, including levels of sensitivity and tone ranges.


Refers to a detailed dental profile x-ray that shows us how your child’s jaws fit together (your bite) and how your jaw occlusion is positioned in comparison to your facial skeleton.

Cephalometric radiograph:

Refers to the side-view x-ray picture we take of your child’s head, which allows us to examine,
mark and measure different aspects of your child’s bite; we use this to measure bite and growth
progress of the teeth (ceph= head; metric = measure, radiograph = x-ray).

Cephalometric tracing:

Refers to the drawing we make of your child’s facial skeletal structures, by overlaying special paper on top of the cephalometric x-ray, then marking specific structures and mouth/jaw areas as ‘landmarks’. From this we can plan our work. We also use it to compare to new x-rays throughout your child’s treatment years, so that we can see exactly how much progress we’re making. We also call these ‘geometric tracings’.

Cephalometric viewer:

Refers to the flat light table or lighted wall panel where we place your child’s x-rays for accurate viewing.

Cheek retractors:

Refers to the small plastic pieces we use to gently pull back your child’s cheeks and lips so that we can see the teeth and work inside of the mouth.


Refers to the meeting during which we talk to you and your child about the treatment plan that
will best correct and repair your child’s condition.

CT Scan:

(Computed Tomography) refers to a computerized x-ray method that displays and photographs cross-sectional views of the body, enabling our doctor to review and analyze a three-dimensional picture of portions of your child’s head and/or neck.

Diagnostic records:

Refers to our collection of patient information including your child’s health history, results
of a visual interior mouth exam (gums, bony alveolar ridge, soft tissue, teeth), impressions,
wax ‘bite registration’ pieces, photographs of arch, smile, teeth; x-rays from both sides and
front of mouth; we use this information to figure out what kind of work we need to do on your
child’s teeth/jaw, then plan treatment.


Refers to a picture of the heart captured by bouncing sound waves off of the heart’s structures and recording the sound waves on film so that we can look at structures and movements of the heart.

Endoscope (and sheath):

Refers to the thin, firm rod with a lighted tip that we can use to look inside your child’s body and guide our work during some kinds of surgery. We also use the endoscope for examining the inside of an organ.


Refers to the finely pointed tool we use while examining your child’s teeth; its hook-like
end allows us to check for loose teeth, loose fillings, decay spots, and appliance fit.

Extraoral photograph:

Refers to a picture of your child’s smile and mouth from the outside.

Facebow transfer:

Refers to the procedure of tracing your child’s cephalogram onto paper and using it to measure
your child’s facial elements; this drawing becomes an important two-dimensional reference for
the construction of a well-fitted face-bow, helps us plan surgery, and also can be used to plan
distraction osteogenesis.


Refers to the plaster-like arches we create by having your child bite down into an upper and lower mouth tray of soft, putty-like algenate; when it hardens, we use the ‘impression’ to create highly accurate models of your child’s upper and lower arch; we can use the models for fabricating custom-fit appliances, planning treatment, and keeping track of your child’s treatment progress.

Interocclusal registration:

Refers to the piece of soft wax into which your child bites, to mark where their upper and
lower teeth come together. This helps us with treatment planning, showing us precisely how
the jaws related to one another.


Refers to a diagnostic procedure in which the patient is placed into a special bed which slides into the center of an MRI unit. Although the patient feels nothing, the magnetic power exerted by the unit allows highly specific visualization of the inside of the body; including tissues and vessels which x-rays cannot capture.


Refers to a simple method for observing the function of the back of the throat (pharynx); the speech doctor (Speech Pathologist) places a small telescope-like tube through the patient’s nose and down into the beginning section of the back of the throat (the pharynx); the doctor can see and record throat movements and structural changes as the patient talks.

Pannelipse x-ray:

Refers to an x-ray we take to show us the entire mouth, teeth, and related structures, all the way from one side of the mouth to the other (pan= move from one side to the other; elipse= horizontally long oval shape).


Panoramic x-ray:

Refers to an x-ray we take to show us all the way around the mouth, including teeth jaws,
and all visible structures. The panoramic x-ray machine actually moves around your head as
it works (pan= move across, from one side to the other; rama= all encompassing view).

Periapical x-ray:

Refers to an x-ray we take of single teeth, or of groups of teeth; we use this to examine the tooth/teeth closely or in relationship to other teeth, or as a starting point for marking growth/adjustment progress.


Refers to the regular (non x-ray) digital pictures that we take of your child’s facial structures, head, and other affected areas.


Refers to the x-ray we take to show us your child’s entire upper or lower dental arch, as
well as how the jaws come together. It can be taken from directly over the upper arch, or
directly under the lower arch. Your child actually bites down onto the large,
circular-shaped x-ray film (radio = around a circular area; graph = picture).

Records appointment:

Refers to the appointment at our office where we take all the pictures, x-rays, wax bites, and impressions for treatment planning or for progress comparison.


Refers to the 3-D model of a child’s upper and lower jaw that we use to demonstrate how teeth are aligned, and how we would like them to be aligned. We can also use it to demonstrate the procedures we will be doing.


Refers to an x-ray procedure that captures a ‘movie’ of the throat’s movements during speech and breathing, allowing our Speech Pathologist to find out what structural and functional throat conditions are causing speech problems.

Wax bite:

Refers to the procedure we use to copy the way in which your child’s top and lower jaw come together at the biting surfaces (occlusion): we simply have the child bite down on a soft sheet of wax, leaving a bite mark on the top and underside for us to examine and measure.

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