As our prosthodontist in Seattle knows, the sharp, detailed results of digital x-rays have had an impressive impact assisting, restorative and cosmetic dentistry. While the process of taking the digital x-ray is similar to the older technology using film to capture the image, it has several points of improvement over the older style of imaging. This article will discuss how digital x-rays work and what the benefits are over other, outdated technology.

Digital X-rays 101

Prosthodontist Seattle

What is a digital x-ray?

So what exactly is a digital x-ray? A digital x-ray uses radiographs, or images taken with an electronic digital sensor, that is inserted in the mouth. The image is projected to a computer screen where the prosthodontist, or any type of dentist, is able to immediately access the results electronically. They utilize computerized software that allows for fast processing, more defined images, and the added advantage of electronic storage. 

Why do people need dental x-rays?

Dental x-rays, even the older film-based type, have always been an important aid in the diagnostic process for dentists. These images allow a dentist to see what is going on below the gum line as well as pits and crevices that are likely the result of tooth decay. An x-ray will also show stages of periodontal disease, bone loss, and tarter buildup.

With x-rays, dentists can see hidden areas of tooth decay, cyst and tumors, abscesses, and impacted teeth. Additionally, a prosthodontist can check on the condition of bridges, crowns, fillings, and other cosmetic work.

This diagnostic information is imperative to good dental practice. It is also an advantage in planning purposes, such as checking on the status bone before placing implants. A dentist can also assess the condition of a tooth, or teeth, that may be needed to act as an anchor for a bridge.

What Are the Benefits of Dental Radiographs?

So know that the basics of what a digital x-ray is and how dentists use them, here are some points of interest on how this new radiography is an improvement over the older systems of imaging.

  • Less radiation – digital x-rays have the advantage of a decrease in radiation exposure of up to 80 percent, depending on the technology it is being compared to. As everyone knows that radiation exposure needs to be kept to a minimum, this is a great reduction on the impact of this diagnostic tool on a person’s health. Additionally, there is no need for pregnant women to worry about the affects on their unborn child. The amount of radiation is so low, and the direction of its aim is so precise, there is no risk of affecting a fetus. 
  • Environmental improvement – The old system of using film required the processing of chemicals to develop the image. They also used additional chemical processing to create the film. These chemicals have a harsh environmental impact which is not the case with digital x-rays. 
  • Faster results, faster appointments – Dental radiographs show their results almost instantaneously, in about three seconds. The elimination of the need to develop film has reduced the wait-time for both the dentist and the patient. This immediate information cuts back on the overall time a person spends at a dental appointment.
  • More images with less fuss – Using digital x-rays, a dentist does not have to remove and replaces uncomfortable slides of film to take multiple images. Digital imaging captures multiple shots simply by moving the same sensor to the next location. Again, this cuts back on the time it takes to complete the diagnostic imaging. Another added benefits is that the dentist can see the results of the image right away, and therefore be able to catch a bad image, as in the case of a patient moving while the x-ray was taken. Rather than having to wait to develop the slide, then put the patient back in the x-ray chair, he or she can see it did not turn out and can retake the necessary picture all at one time.
  • Better quality images – Digital x-rays make color contrast of an image a possibility. Even those that only utilize black and white imaging can show up to 16,000 shades of gray. The improvement of this level of detail in the diagnostic and dental care processes is obvious. The quality of the image makes more information available, making available improved dental care.
  • Improvements using from software – Because this technology utilizes software rather than a physical copy of an image, it can make use of algorithms that further increase the definition of the image for improved analysis.
  • Improves dental records – Also due to the electronic nature of this technology, the resulting x-rays can be backed up using a cloud server. This protects the images in the event of a fire, flooding, or computer crash. It also allows for easy electronic filing, so the images do not need to be physically housed in medical records. More and more doctors are moving toward using electronic medical records for easy access and sharing. These electronic images fit right in with that more efficient process.
  • Ergonomic fit – The old film slides were generally all the same size and had to be bent to fit in a child’s mouth. Using digital x-rays is more comfortable as the size is smaller and the corners are more rounded. It is less obtrusive for both adults and children.

The Take Away

With digital radiography, dentist are able to do more in less time. The improvement in detail also prepares dentists to make a more accurate diagnosis and apply better treatment and care. Prosthodontists, in particular, can better plan for an improved smile with this increased level of image clarity and definition. Timothy Butson, our Seattle prosthodontist, proudly offers this latest advanced technology to reduce the time his patients spend in the office as well as offer them a deeper level of oral health care services.

If you have questions about digital x-rays or would like to schedule an appointment with a local prosthodontist in Seattle, please call our friendly, knowledgeable staff at (206) 624-7706.