X-rays are taken to help diagnose a problem, confirm a diagnosis, give valuable information to enable a dental problem to be fixed & to find otherwise undetectable dental problems.
The physical process for digital radiography is actually similar to traditional dental X-rays that use film: With digital radiography, we either insert a sensor or digital plate into your mouth to capture images of your teeth or have you stand in a scanning x-ray called an orthopantomogram (panorex) to get a complete image of your jaw.
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 x-ray almost instantly & the plate system takes 30 seconds to process. The x-ray image is projected 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 colour can also be adjusted, allowing us to see, for example, small cavities more easily. 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.
Environmentally Friendly – Digital dental X-rays are better for the environment. With digital radiography, no chemicals are used to develop film.
Having used digital radiographs for over a decade I have found that I can follow a tooth & monitor its general health in a consistent & predictable manner. If I suspect there is a problem with a tooth & I take a repeat x-ray of the same tooth a year or so later the only variable is the tooth. This is because I am using the same x-ray sensor in the same holder & using the same x-ray dose. This means any change in the tooth is due to the tooth decaying. With old fashioned wet film x-rays there are multiple variables e.g. the developer or fixer strength, temperature whilst being developed & fixed & time taken to develop & fix can all give x-ray images a different & difficult to diagnose appearance.
No matter what type of X-rays you choose, dental X-rays are important part of your regular dental visits. Dental X-rays are necessary to help diagnose problems not visible to the naked eye. If you’re concerned about radiation, talk to your dentist about your X-ray options. If you need help finding a dentist, give us a call!