Dentists now use computers to generate digital dental radiographs and intra-oral photographs. A radiograph is a picture taken with an x-ray. Dentists use radiographs to view teeth and conditions beneath surrounding visible tissues. Digital refers to a method replacing film with a computer generated image. Re-useable electronic sensors and computer technology is used to capture and store the radiographic and photographic images. The image is then displayed on a computer screen.
The benefits of a dental X-ray and intra-oral camera examination are the dentist uses these images to reveal diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissues that cannot be seen during an examination of the mouth. Findings include: decay between the teeth, infections in the bone, abscesses, developmental problems and tumors. Early detection can save time, money and discomfort.
Among the advantages of digital technology are quick captured graphics with immediate viewing, less radiation to exposure to capture the images on radiographs, the images can be printed or E-Mailed to specialists or insurance carriers, claims state that quality computer images will last 100 years and environmental advantages of not using and disposing of photographic developing solutions. This helps for a “Greener” dental office.
The digital image can be seen as a larger than life image on a monitor. This allows the dentist to magnify problem areas for better viewing.
Digital radiographs are safe. Any full series of intra-oral films (about 18 films) delivers less radiation than a person receives in a month from the environment. Bite wings or a panoramic film deliver less. Digital radiographs decrease that exposure. There is no set limit to how many dental x-rays you can have.
There is a radiation dose difference between standard x-ray film and a digital radiograph.
Using the newest, safest X-ray machines that allow the shortest exposure times, exposure can be reduced to less than one tenth of that of traditional film radiographs.
The hygienist or assistant leave the room for each x-ray because there is a state regulation requiring dental technicians to be away from the immediate area. Despite the small amounts of scatter radiation, with large numbers of patients, this technique removes any concern over risk of exposure to the technician over time.
Digital radiology is Eco-friendly. In my office there is no dark room, no film, no hazardous developing chemicals, no wastewater or any lead foil waste created taking x-rays.
Digital radiography was introduced in 1987. It is now moving to be the standard of care in dentistry. Digital techniques will replace film images in the future. However, there is a high cost for computers in all treatment areas, intra-oral cameras, practice-management and imaging software, software support agreements, new x-ray and digital radiation equipment.
Dental offices utilizing digital radiographs and cameras will continue to increase in number and are sure to lead the way to increased and improved patient services and better patient care.