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.
Digital radiography in dentistry provides the clinician with the ability to store their images on a computer. This provides two key advantages over film in the form of full screen images that can be enhanced and zoomed in on, aiding diagnostics and providing easier patient communication, as well as allowing dental offices to communicate images electronically, allowing for simpler referrals and, where applicable, easier insurance claim submission.