What are Digital X-rays?
Digital radiography (digital X-ray) is the latest technology used to take dental X-rays. This technique uses an electronic sensor (instead of an X-ray film) to capture and store the digital image on a computer. This image can be instantly viewed and enlarged, helping the dentist and dental hygienist to detect problems more easily. Digital X-rays reduce radiation by 80-90% compared to the already low exposure of traditional dental X-rays.
Digital X-rays are essential, diagnostic tools that provide information not visible with a dental examination. Dentists and dental hygienists use this information to safely and accurately detect hidden problems and complete an accurate treatment plan. Without X-rays, problem areas may go undetected.
What can the X-ray Reveal?
The digital X-ray can detect the following problems:
- Abscesses or cysts
- Bone loss
- Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors
- Decay between teeth
- Developmental abnormalities
- Poor tooth and root positions
- Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line
- Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage may save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort and your teeth
Are digital X-rays Safe?
Digital X-rays produce a significantly lower level of radiation compared to traditional dental X-rays. Not only are digital X-rays better for the safety of the patient, but they are also faster and more comfortable to take, which reduces your time in the dental clinic. Also, since the digital image is captured electronically, there is no need to develop the X-rays, thus eliminating the disposal of harmful waste and chemicals into the environment.
Even though digital X-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered very safe, dentists still take necessary precautions to limit the patient's exposure to radiation. These precautions include only taking X-rays when necessary.
How Often Should Digital X-rays be Taken?
The need for digital X-rays depends on each patient's individual dental health needs. Your dentist will recommend necessary X-rays based upon the review of your medical and dental history, a dental examination, signs and symptoms, your age and risk of disease.
A full mouth series of digital X-rays is recommended for new patients. A full series is usually good for a few years. Bite-wing X-rays, X-rays of the top and bottom teeth biting together, are taken for a check-up.
For extractions, particularly wisdom teeth, an orthopantomogram (OPG) is needed to examine the entire jaw. When considering orthodontics an OPG and an encephalogram (CEP) are needed.