Digital radiography is one of the most important new advances in dentistry. The x-rays we take are ready to view in seconds after shooting. Unlike film, digital X-ray images can be enhanced to assist in making a precise diagnosis. Images can be magnified, sharpened, colorized, or displayed as a negative. These software-controlled enhancements optimize the image but do not alter the data - you can always “go back” to view the original image. Digital tools such as these are built right into the software that drives the digital radiography system. The X-rays are stored in the patient’s digital file, and can be brought up and viewed instantly at a later date. Another great thing about digital radiography (which is fast becoming a very useful tool) is the capability to superimpose images taken at different times, and then instruct the computer to emphasize or highlight only areas that differ. Think of it as time-lapse photography - you can see change over time. Changes such as tooth movement, bone loss or growth, and even subtle nuances of change in a restoration, filling, or root canal can be quickly and easily recognized using this technique, which is ideally suited to digital radiography.
There are many ways in which digital x-rays are superior to traditional x-rays – the following are the top three:
1. Less Radiation
While radiation is inevitable from x-rays, digital x-rays do have far lower levels than those emitted through traditional x-rays. In fact, digital x-rays produce levels of radiation that are 80% lower than traditional x-rays.
Traditional x-rays require a process of lead bibs and biting down on papers that produce great discomfort between jaw cramps, awkward biting, and cutting edges inside the mouth. With digital x-rays, rather than biting paper, you will receive a sensor inside your mouth that is connected to a computer via a thin wire. The sensor receives the images of your teeth and can be moved to various locations within your mouth to capture additional images. This method of capturing x-ray photographs is far less intrusive and much more comfortable for patients.
Beyond the convenience and patient comfort perks, digital x-ray technology displays viewable images in as little as three seconds, saving on time for both the patients and technicians. Additionally, because the images are digital, they are easier to resize into larger or smaller images, depending on the need – all without distorting the graphic or losing important details that the original images hold. For patients, this means easier to understand images that make finding a decay spot or abnormality more easily visible.
Why Do We Take Panoramic X-Rays?
- Panoramic radiographs allow the dentist to check for missing or extra (supernumerary) teeth that cannot be detected on a bitewing film or periapical film.
- Panoramic films can detect early growth deformities or abnormalities in the jaws.
- Panoramic films can also allow the dentist to detect any growths or tumors in the jaws that cannot be detected by other radiographs. These growths could be precancerous and early detection is essential and possibly life-saving.
There are several reasons why we take intraoral images. Intra oral images are important diagnostic aids for dentists and his professional staff. By taking these images we are able to map out a clear plan and assessment of the patients needs as well as being able to clearly envision how to correct a problem. It magnifies the image, enables us to detect lesions, assists the dentists in restoring the tooth's anatomy and, it depicts the severity of tooth conditions. It also allows us to communicate more clearly to the patient what we are seeing, a picture is worth a thousand words. The patient has a better understanding of what needs to be done and why.
These types of records are necessary to monitor and document the patient’s treatment and progress. A good example would be for orthodontic procedures. When extra-oral and intra-oral pictures are taken at each appointment you are able to see the face structure change over time, the profile is different, and yes, the teeth have moved.
These images are also beneficial when it comes to insurance filling. At times x-rays do not support our clinical observations. The images allow us to show insurance companies what we see. Diagnostic photographs provide accurate documentation of the tooth's preoperative condition.