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MRI Scans and Braces Removal: Why an MRI Scan Might Require Braces Removal

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Health care professionals sometimes need to rely on MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans to more accurately diagnose medical conditions. However, because of the powerful magnetic field generated by this system, metal objects that contain iron (ferromagnetic) must be removed beforehand. Orthodontic braces, however, are usually not a problem in this regard.

Metal Braces Interfere With Image Quality

Numerous studies have assessed the risks and found that there is no danger to patients wearing orthodontic braces. However, if a patient is undergoing an MRI scan to examine the head or neck area, certain types of braces may distort the image. This is especially important if a clear image of the oral cavity is needed.

As a result, patients wearing braces that contain metals such as stainless steel or titanium may need to have their braces removed before an MRI scan. A study of sixty patients in 2014 concluded that stainless steel brackets should always be removed prior to an MRI scan of the head and neck area. However, titanium brackets can sometimes be left as they are.

Ceramic and Plastic Have No Effect

For patients wearing Invisalign or ceramic braces, there shouldn't be any need to remove an oral appliance prior to an MRI scan. Only metals interfere with image quality. However, just to be on the safe side, you should check with your dentist before your scan.

Inform Your Orthodontist as Early as Possible

Under normal circumstances, interrupting your orthodontic treatment by removing your braces mid-treatment is inadvisable. This is for two reasons. First, your teeth may take some time to readjust to the brackets once they are replaced. As a result, your treatment time may be extended by several months.

Second, because of the materials used in replacing the brackets, you may need to pay an additional fee for their replacement. As such, it is recommended that you inform your orthodontist as early as possible. Should you be aware of the need for an MRI scan before beginning your orthodontic treatment, your orthodontist can delay your treatment until the scan has been carried out.

Ceramic Braces Can Be Used Instead

Another alternative is for your orthodontist to place ceramic braces instead of metal braces. Of course, this is only viable if you are aware that you might need an MRI scan before your orthodontic treatment.

The lesson here is that as a patient of orthodontics, it pays to be kept in the loop at all times regarding your health. If you are ever unsure of how braces might affect an upcoming medical examination or even an existing condition, check with your doctor and orthodontist as soon as possible.