The Benefits and Advantages of Digital Dental X-Rays
The dental industry is ever-changing and adapting as new technology emerges to fit the needs of dentists and their patients. One way that dentistry has seen great advancements is through better and more advanced imaging processes.
X-rays are often the starting point for diagnosing and screening for various health concerns. This is because they offer a non-invasive and harmless way to view the jaw, abscesses, and more very pressing concerns. This makes it essential that dentists have up-to-date equipment that meets their standards and needs.
Since the creation of traditional x-rays in the early 1900s, dental equipment has continued to advance with technology. Following the 1980s, digital x-rays were introduced to dentistry, and they have seen a steady incline in popularity. This is due to the multitude of benefits they offer both the dental practice and the patients it serves.
Keep reading to find out how traditional x-rays differ from digital, and the ways that digital x-rays can benefit your dental practice.
Advantages of Digital Dental X-Rays (Radiography)
How do Digital X-Rays Work?
The process of digital dental x-ray’s is like that of traditional x-rays in that rays travel through the human body and are absorbed. The resulting image shows lighter and darker areas depending on how much radiation is absorbed.
More generally, a uniform x-ray beam is emitted and then passes through the body and these changes are recorded. With a digital x-ray, a sensor is inserted into the mouth that captures the image produced by the x-ray. Then the digital sensor transmits the information to the computer that it is connected to, and an image is displayed on the screen for viewing.
1. Safer Alternative
Traditional x-rays are considered safe and emit relatively low amounts of radiation. But some individuals may still be apprehensive about radiation exposure. Fortunately, research shows that digital x-rays emit between 80 and 90 percent less radiation than traditional film x-rays. Meaning there is also no need for dental practices to house hazardous chemicals required for developing film.
2. Better Image Quality
With digital x-ray images being produced on computers, they offer better image quality than traditional x-rays that have to be developed on film. The images produced are high-resolution and can be enlarged or magnified to see more detail. This allows dentists to see smaller, more hidden areas of concern, helping to treat issues before they worsen. Early detection helps to minimize the amount or severity of the required treatments.
Before, once physical copies of x-ray film were processed, dentists were unable to alter the contrast of the x-ray image. This issue is resolved with digital x-rays, as it is easy to do so in order to better view some areas. Ultimately, the better image quality produced by digital dental x-rays helps with diagnosis and overall improves patient care.
This leads to the next benefit of digital x-rays, their speed. Digital x-rays are significantly quicker because the dentist no longer has to wait for the x-ray to be developed on film in a dark room. Generally, this process of developing the x-ray film would take about 30 minutes. Now digital results are displayed almost immediately on a computer so that dentists can review the images with the patient. Saving time for both the patient and the dentist.
4. Easier to Organize
Previously, physical copies of film x-rays were difficult to keep track of and organize. Dental practices would often lose track of these physical copies, making it hard to keep an accurate record of changes and treatments. The result was having to retake x-rays, which wasted the patient and the practice’s time and money.
Thankfully, digital x-rays resolved this issue because the organization and storage are simpler and more efficient. These digital x-ray images can be saved to digital file folders and then can be saved to the cloud, so losing them becomes less likely.
With digital x-rays stored in electronic file systems, the process of exchanging information among practices has become easy. Before digital x-rays, film records had to be mailed to new offices, which could be difficult when traveling across state lines. Now, the potential for losing or having trouble receiving records from a different dental practice is much lower. It’s easier than ever to get a second opinion or transfer records when seeing a new dentist. Making transitions smoother can help to understand health history and track changes.
6. Less Expensive
Another benefit of digital x-rays is that dental practices no longer have to reserve space for dark rooms to develop the film. This means there’s no need to buy expensive film or chemicals. And dental practices don’t have to have someone in charge of developing film, which also saves time and money.
7. Environmentally Friendly
With modern digital x-rays, there is no longer the need for dental practices to have entire rooms dedicated to developing the film. And without the need for film development, there is no need to find solutions for dumping dangerous processing chemicals.
Previously, these chemicals were adding to environmental pollution. This is because the film developer system used cleaners that are now considered hazardous waste, due to their corrosiveness and reactivity. However, digital x-rays offer an environmentally friendly approach since there is no hazardous chemical waste as a byproduct.
As dental technology continues to advance and push the bounds of possibilities, dentists and their practices must stay up to date on ways that they can improve their care. Stay tuned for the next blog on the difference between intraoral and extraoral bitewing x-rays.