Traditionally, dentists have always used film-based x-ray technology for taking x-rays of their patient’s mouths and teeth. But technology has advanced and dentists now have the option of using digital x-rays which have a lot of diagnostic advantages over older methods.
Advantages of Digital X-rays
There are various factors why your dentist favors using digital X-rays. These include;
- The images can be viewed immediately
This is important and ensures that speedy decisions can be made during dental procedures such as implants, root canal procedures, crown and bridge placement and are also used for patient education.
- Images can be enhanced
Since digital radiography uses intuitive software, you can easily enhance an image with the press of a button to make it easier to read and diagnose.
- Instances of retakes are minimized
Unlike older x-ray technology where an x-ray could result in overexposure, underexposure, improper positioning, and cut-offs, using digital x-rays minimizes these errors. This means you’ll be exposed to less radiation because you don’t have to go through retakes.
- Data storage
Since the images will be stored electronically, this makes it easier to collaborate and communicate with different practitioners, ensuring your case gets immediate attention from the best specialists.
- Patient Education is easier
With a digital x-ray, it becomes easier to explain findings immediately as you’ll be viewing the results on a monitor. Enhancement features will also make it easier for you to understand what you are viewing on the screen.
- Lesser radiation
You will be exposed to 3 to 4 times less radiation than when conventional x-ray machines are used.
- You’ll save time
Because the process of processing the film in a dark room is eliminated and the level of accuracy is higher, you will not spend a lot of time waiting for x-ray results. This reduces the amount of time you spend in the dentist’s office.
Types of digital x-rays
X-rays help the dentist to get a detailed view of your mouth. The following are different types of dental x-rays:
Bitewing allows the dentist to view the crowns of your teeth on both the upper and lower rows. When this type of x-ray is being taken, you have to bite down on a film.
Periapical will give your dentist a view of an entire tooth and the bone surrounding the tooth.
Panoramic provides a wide view of your entire mouth. These x-rays assist in planning many dental procedures and will also help the dentist to decide whether he needs to take more digital x-rays.
Cone -beam computerized tomography is a 3-D x-ray that allows the dentist to gauge how your teeth are spaced.
Cephalometric and tomographic x-rays take an image of your entire skull. They are great for implant planning because your dentist can view how much bone you have.
Digital x-rays and their use in dental procedures
In endodontic dentistry, one or a combination of the above types of x-rays can be used for diagnosis and treatment planning.
In peridontic dentistry, digital x-rays can be used for diagnosis. For deeper viewing of the bones, a panoramic x-ray would be required.
For extractions and implant placement, panoramic or 3-D x-rays are preferred as they allow the dentist to see the location of nerves, the bone structure and the area that will receive the implant.
For orthodontic therapy, panoramic x-rays, Cephalometric radiographs and also 3-D x-rays are useful for designing and planning the placement of braces.