When Wilhelm Roentgen took a picture of his wife’s hand (and gigantic ring) with an experimental type of film in 1895, x-rays became the first technology to create images of bones and other tissues. Throughout the decades, advances in imaging technology have paved the way for CT scans, MRIs, and different types of medical and dental imaging. X-ray technology has also advanced - today’s digital x-rays are leading the way when it comes to medical imaging. Digital x-rays, also known as digital radiography, are also a great leap in dental imaging technology.
You may already know that digital x-rays help doctors save countless lives every day. Digital x rays also help dentists save teeth by providing a view of the teeth, roots, jaw, and facial bones that we otherwise wouldn't see with the naked eye.
Dentists rely on dental x-rays to detect and diagnose:
Dentists also use x-rays in children to determine if there is enough room in the mouth to accommodate incoming teeth and if wisdom teeth are developing in a favorable manner. A digital dental x-ray can also show whether the incoming teeth are impacted, which means they cannot break through the gum completely.
X-ray machines have two basic components: one part generates the x-ray and the other detects the image the x-rays create. The patient is positioned between the x-ray generator and the image detection system. The generator emits the x-ray, which passes through the patient’s body. Different tissues and organs absorb the x-ray energy at different rates. Bones absorb a significant amount of the energy, so very few of the x-rays reach the image detection system – this is why bones look white on x-rays. Blood, skin and fat look dark gray because they allow most of the x-ray to pass through.
Both conventional and digital x-rays have an x-ray generator and image detection system, and they create images in much the same way. The main difference between conventional and digital x-rays is in the image detection system: conventional x-rays use film, while digital x-rays use computers. This difference provides a number of significant benefits.
All x-rays use ionizing radiation, which is a form of energy that can pass through air, water and living tissue. Compared with conventional x-rays, digital x-rays expose patients to 80 percent less ionizing radiation.
Digital x-rays using phosphor plates are 2 to 4 times faster than are film screens, which means it requires lesser doses of x-rays to create high-quality images.
Conventional x-rays require processing with chemicals in a darkroom, similar to the process of developing old-fashioned rolls of camera film. This processing can take up valuable time and delay treatment, which can be significant during dental emergencies. Having to retake x rays due to unclear images is also time consuming. Digital x-rays do not require processing, so the results are immediately available to your doctor and care can begin right away. What’s more, the dentist can tell right away if they need to retake an x-ray.
To get a better view of areas that are difficult to see, your dentist can increase or decrease the contrast and make other adjustments on a digital x-ray, which is not possible on conventional x-rays.
It takes a number of chemicals to develop conventional x-rays. Many of these chemicals are toxic, and if not handled properly, these chemicals can find their way into the environment. Since digital x-rays do not require processing, they solve the problem of waste management and help protect the environment.
Before the introduction of digital x-rays in 1987, dental x-rays were printed on film; the only ways to transfer the images were to send them through the mail or have the patient hand-carry them. Dentists had to keep copies of these x-rays, which took up quite a bit of space. Because the information is gathered digitally, dentists and specialists can send images to each other with a click of a mouse or give patients a copy on CD.
Most dental insurance providers cover the cost of a digital x-ray.
Cusp Dental Boutique uses digital x-ray technology to help us quickly and accurately address your specific dental needs. We create a unique dental experience that is ahead of its time by combining our passion for people and state-of-the-art technology. Contact Cusp Dental Boutique to learn more about why you should choose digital x-rays!