Are Digital X-rays More Prevalent?

Are Digital X-rays More Prevalent?

September 1, 2019

X-rays have been an essential part of dentistry for decades. Taking images allows the dentist to accurately diagnose and treat problems. Without which, it would be impossible to see inside and between the teeth, both of which are not visible during routine dental exams.

The two most prevalent ways of X-rays are:

  • Traditional X-Rays

This classic dental radiology involves an X-ray machine which produces the X-rays and an image receptor called the X-ray film where the internal picture of the jaw is imprinted. The film is placed in the mouth just behind the affected tooth or bone. The machine consists of the X-ray tube, which is made of Anode (the power supplier) and Cathode (the timer). The camera radiates an invisible beam on the film where the particles mix with the molecules which produces a chemical change and creates an image for the dentist.

However, developing the images requires the use of chemicals which can be harmful to the environment and hard to dispose of.

  • Digital Dental X-Rays

This method resembles the x-ray film used for traditional X-rays but the digital sensor is electronic and connected to a computer. Once the X-ray is taken, the dental image is projected directly on the computer screen of the dentist, which helps in giving them a comprehensive and accurate diagnosis. Therefore, the radiation required for the digital method is quite less than the traditional X-rays, making it a more safe and efficient method for detecting the gum and jaw defects.

Digital X-Rays are not only faster and more efficient, but also healthy for the environment. The use of waste like covers and lead packets on each X-ray and the harmful chemicals needed to process the conventional films can be eliminated.

So what’s the difference between using film and digital sensor?

Digital X-ray imaging has both advantages and disadvantages.

  • They directly process the images to the computer, thus are eco-friendly.
  • The sensors are reusable and hence needs one-time investment.
  • The images are directly displayed and so are time-saving.
  • Digital technology enhances the quality of images with the use of software, which results in inaccurate diagnosis.
  • Most vital, the digital sensor uses less radiation in comparison to dental film.

However, there are disadvantages too.

  • Since the Sensors are reusable, they need to be protected with covers as they can’t be sterilized.
  • The digital sensor is heavier than the traditional dental film and thus is hard to hold in the mouth for a long stretch.

There are different types of Dental X-rays

  • Intraoral X-rays- Where the X-ray film is inside the mouth.

The three types-

  • Bite-wing X-rays show details of the upper and lower teeth in one area of the mouth. It detects decay between teeth and changes in the thickness of bone caused by gum disease. These are also beneficial in Dental Bonding as it detects changes in bone density and decay between teeth.
  • Periapical X-rays shows the whole tooth from the crown to beyond the root where the tooth attaches into the jaw. It detects any unusual changes in the root and surrounding bone structures.
  • Occlusal X-rays track the development and the placement of an entire arch of teeth in either the upper or lower jaw.
  • Extraoral X-rays- Where the film is outside the mouth to detect dental problems in the jaw and skull. The several types-
  • Panoramic X-rays which detect s the position of fully emerged, emerging teeth, impacted teeth and help diagnosis tumors.
  • Tomograms help in examining a particular slice by blocking others.

There are some diseases which cannot be detected without the help of X-rays. Decay, tumors, bone loss, and abscess are some of the things that can be found out and treated early due to Digital X-rays.

These are useful for as simple as Teeth Whitening procedures where an overview is provided before exhibiting the process. Nearly all dental practices today rely on digital imaging to take their patients’ x-rays.