The Digital Advantage in X-Rays
It has been a wonderful and revolutionary shift to be able to use digital technology. Digital x-rays are one of the most important tools a dentist can use. Not only are digital x-rays better for the health and safety of the patient, they are faster and more comfortable to take. Since digital x-rays can reveal many problems that are not visible to the naked eye, it helps me determine any hidden ailments more precisely. Digital x-rays also track the development of teeth in children that have not yet emerged.
However, my team and I are careful not to subject anyone to unnecessary exposure. Digital x-rays are a lot safer than old-school x-rays.
Why Digital is Safer
Digital x-rays are environmentally friendly and use no chemicals. Since the digital image is captured electronically, there is no need to develop the x-rays, thus eliminating the disposal of harmful waste and chemicals into the environment. This type of x-ray reduces radiation by 80-90% compared to the already low exposure of traditional dental x-rays.
How Often Should Digital X-Rays be used?
There has been a lot of concern about unnecessary and over-exposure to x-rays. This is one of the best reasons for a dentist to go digital. It is safer and more accurate. The need for dental x-rays depends on each patient’s individual dental health needs. My team and I will recommend necessary x-rays based upon the review of your medical and dental history, a dental exam, signs and symptoms, your age, and risk of disease.
A full mouth series of dental x-rays is recommended for new patients. A full series is usually good for three to five years. Bite-wing x-rays (x-rays of top and bottom teeth biting together) are taken at recall (check-up) visits and are recommended once or twice a year to detect new dental problems.
How Do X-Rays Work?
Instead of creating an image that must be developed on x-ray film, digital x-ray machines create the image on a special pad that is instantly translated into a digital file. This file is then saved onto a computer where it can be looked at in detail, enlarged, enhanced or even compared to older pictures.
As x-rays pass through your mouth they are mostly absorbed by teeth and bone because these tissues, which are called hard tissues, are denser than cheeks and gums, which are called soft tissues. When x-rays strike the film or a digital sensor, an image called a radiograph is created. Radiographs allow a dentist to see hidden abnormalities, like tooth decay, infections and signs of gum disease, including changes in the bone and ligaments holding teeth in place. X-rays can also look at the bone structure of the face and jaw to determine if there are problems with joint alignment or other issues with the bones of the face. I can easily and accurately compare current x-rays with older ones so that I can spot any irregularities or unexpected changes.
Other advantages include overall portability. Instead of having to make expensive copies of x-ray films, records can be sent digitally to another doctor, dentist or oral surgeon. This can greatly speed up the process of diagnosis and treatment.