Digital radiography (digital X-ray) is the latest technology used to take dental X-rays. This technique uses an electronic sensor (instead of X-ray film) that captures and stores the digital image on a computer. This image can be instantly viewed and enlarged, helping the dentist and dental hygienist detect problems more easily. Digital X-rays reduce radiation 80-90% compared to the already low exposure of traditional dental X-rays.
Dental X-rays are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam. Dentists and dental hygienists use this information to safely and accurately detect hidden dental abnormalities and complete an accurate treatment plan. Without X-rays, problem areas can go undetected.
Determining how often dental x-rays are required depends on each patient’s particular circumstances, signs and symptoms that you exhibit as well as your dental history. Typically, a full mouth series of radiographs will be recommended for new patients and every 2-3 years thereafter. Bitewing x-rays, which show the top and bottom teeth biting together, are recommended once or twice a year during routine check-ups to detect new dental problems.
By using dental x-rays to identify such problems, treatment can be implemented at an early stage to save time and money as well as maintaining the integrity of your oral health.
Examples of problems and abnormalities that can be revealed through the use of dental x-rays include:
Abscesses or cysts.
Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors.
Decay between the teeth.
Poor tooth and root positions.
Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line.
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 those X-rays that are necessary, and using lead apron shields to protect the body.