Dental technology has improved the way dentists practice their craft. Thanks to science, modern techniques allow patients to receive dental treatment without the pain and time associated with old-fashioned dentistry. Dental technology is even being developed to make dental X-rays safer and more convenient.
While dental X-rays emit low amounts of radiation and every precaution is taken to protect patients from exposure, some dental patients may still put off dental X-rays for safety reasons. Dental X-rays bring up other issues for patients, including the wait time for film to be developed and environmental concerns. Dentists are addressing these issues with digital radiography, a high-tech replacement for traditional dental X-rays.
Digital Dental X-Rays
The physical process for digital radiography is actually similar to traditional dental X-rays that use film: With digital radiography, your dentist inserts a sensor into your mouth to capture images of your teeth — but that’s where the similarities between conventional and digital dental X-rays end. Although it resembles the film used for bitewings and other X-rays, the digital sensor is electronic and connected to a computer. Once the X-ray is taken, the image is projected on a screen for your dentist to view.
There are several benefits to using digital radiography over traditional film X-rays:
- Less Radiation — The equipment used in digital radiography exposes dental patients to much less radiation. In fact, digital X-rays use up to 90 percent less radiation than film X-rays. While conventional dental X-rays are relatively safe, digital radiography is an excellent option for those who take X-rays on a regular basis or for those who are concerned about radiation.
- Shorter Dental Appointments — Digital radiography can also shorten your dental appointment! With traditional dental X-rays, you’ll have to wait while your dentist develops the film. With digital radiography, the sensor develops the picture almost instantly and projects it onto a computer screen right before your eyes.
- Higher Quality Images — The standard size of traditional X-rays can make viewing difficult, but digital radiography has done away with the “one size fits all” mentality. Once on the screen, digital X-rays can be enlarged or magnified for a better visual of the tooth’s structure. Brightness, contrast and color can also be adjusted, allowing your dentist to see small cavities easier. If you need a hard copy of your X-ray, digital images can also be printed out.
- Transferring Dental Records — Digital images can be e-mailed to a dental specialist for immediate review. Digital X-rays are taking away the expense and time needed to copy files and mail them to another dentist, making it easier to transfer dental records or get a second opinion. As more offices are turning to electronic patient charts, computers may eliminate the need to mail dental records altogether.
- Environmentally Friendly — Digital dental X-rays are better for the environment! With digital radiography, no chemicals are used to develop film. There’s also no wasted space of a darkroom and no need to store film, which can pile up in a dentist’s files.