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Shriners Children’s offers specialized facial and dental imaging for children with craniofacial differences.

Facial and dental radiology (medical imaging/X-rays) is a painless process which helps surgeons and doctors understand each child’s unique facial anatomy to plan treatments that allow children to reach their full potential.

Your child’s long-term health and safety is our highest priority. We have pediatric-trained specialists who use radiation doses as low as possible while obtaining quality images. In addition, Shriners Children’s specialists work together to coordinate X-ray needs to reduce the overall amount of radiation exposure in childhood.

We provide imaging services at certain times in a child’s facial growth to evaluate and plan surgical reconstructions of craniofacial conditions beginning around age 6. Our dental X-rays may be taken on a few types of X-ray machines, the Pan Ceph, a dental computerized tomography (CT) scan or cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) scan:

  • Pan Ceph: Takes two types of X-rays on one machine. A panoramic (pan), a frontal view that scans upper/lower jaws, teeth and facial bone anatomy. Also a craniofacial X-ray (cephalogram) – a side view of the patient which helps doctors see positions of your child’s skull bones, jaws and teeth in relation to one another.
  • Dental CT Scan: Takes many images and a computer combines them into a detailed 3D cross section of a child’s facial bones and tissues.
  • CBCT*: A small machine that moves around your child. It uses a coned-shaped X-ray beam. CBCT provides doctors with a 3D image of the child’s mouth, jaw, airway, neck, teeth and ears, nose and throat. A CBCT exposes a child to less radiation than traditional CT scanners.

*Study may be completed at a Shriners Children’s partner institution

Preparing Your Child

Facial and dental imaging is usually painless for children. It may be helpful to inform your child that they should stay very still during the short imaging process, as a machine circles their head. They may be asked to rest their chin or forehead on a support, and wear a somewhat heavy protective apron over their clothes. Children should not wear metal jewelry or metal hair decorations for the imaging.

Specific treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.

Quality imaging is essential in order to accurately plan and time surgical procedures. Imaging is used to assess the developing facial skeleton and the presence and position of teeth.
Dr. David Morris, Shriners Children's Chicago
female patient during craniofacial exam

Protecting Growing Bodies

Shriners Children’s supports the ALARA imaging standard to reduce radiation exposure in childhood. ALARA is an acronym for "As Low as Reasonably Achievable.” We make every reasonable effort to keep radiation exposure as far below dose limits as practical.

Conditions We Treat

View All Related Conditions

Cleft Lip

When a baby is born with a cleft lip, Shriners Children's team approach provides leading cleft lip surgery and addresses the entire range of concerns for parents related to cleft lip and alveolar cleft.

Cleft Palate

A cleft palate occurs when tissues that form the roof of the mouth don’t join together before birth. Shriners Children’s team care repairs and restores each child physically and psychologically.

Jaw Deformities

Jaw deformities are an upper and/or lower jaw that is too big, too small, crooked or the wrong shape. It can affect eating, teeth development and speech. Shriners Children’s provides jaw surgery.

Craniofacial Microsomia

Craniofacial microsomia is when part of a baby's face and or jaw is too small. Shriners Children's specialists treat this and related conditions such as microtia (small ear) and cleft lip and palate.

Goldenhar Syndrome

Babies with Goldenhar Syndrome have facial differences including missing or partial ear, cleft lip/palate and small jaw, and a spine curve. Craniofacial surgeons reconstruct face, ear and palate. Orthopedic surgeons straighten the spine.

Ear Deformity

Ear deformities or differences can occur at birth or from injury. Some resolve on their own or benefit from soft molding soon after birth, or by surgical reconstruction. ENT doctors and plastic surgeons treat all types of ear deformities.

Dentofacial Skeletal Deformity

Dentofacial skeletal deformity is a difference in the jaw structure involving the teeth and mouth, and face shape. Can involve a cleft (bones don’t connect). May impact breathing, eating and speech. Craniofacial teams treat all types.

Atypical Head Shape

A baby's soft skull may have an atypical head shape that is flattened, unevenly flat or cone shaped. Some resolve on their own. Shriners Children's evaluates and treats with molded helmets or headbands and physical therapy.

Next Steps

Request an Appointment

Families and caregivers seeking treatment should start by contacting us for an appointment.

Log in to the Patient Portal

Parents and guardians of existing patients can email, request records, schedule appointments and more.

Refer a Patient

Physicians and healthcare providers can request appointments, start transfers or contact us with questions.