The Difference in Digital Dental X-Rays
Digital dental x-rays are more efficient and safer than traditional film x-rays. Even though conventional dental x-rays only emit low levels of radiation we know some patients are concerned about exposure and their safety. With digital dental x-rays, you need have no concerns because this equipment exposes you to far lower levels of radiation. In fact, digital dental x-rays produce up to 90% less radiation compared with film x-rays. Our digital x-ray equipment is exceptionally well maintained, and we always take every precaution to keep our patients safe during all treatments.
What Is the Procedure for Having a Digital Dental X-Ray?
The actual procedure for having a digital dental x-ray is very similar to a traditional x-ray. Our dentist, Dr. Don Nimz or another member of our highly trained dental team will carefully insert a sensor into your mouth and which will capture the image of your teeth or jaws. This digital sensor sends the information directly to a computer so that the images taken can be instantly viewed on a screen in the treatment room. Alternatively, images may be taken using a specialized scanner, or we can use a combination of a sensor and a scanner to produce a digital image. The exact method used is dependent on the type of x-ray required.
What Are the Advantages of Digital X-Rays?
Once the digital image is on-screen, we can adjust it if necessary, enlarging or magnifying any areas which require close inspection. This makes it much more straightforward to identify any small cavities or other areas of concern. With digital radiography, we can diagnose any problems more efficiently and more quickly, without the need to wait until an x-ray film is developed. It is also very straightforward for us to show you these images on-screen and to explain any problems and how best to treat them.
If a second opinion is required, these digital images can be emailed to a dental specialist, a process which is much faster and more efficient than having to mail conventional x-ray films. Another nice thing about digital x-rays is that they are more environmentally friendly. We live in such a beautiful part of the world so it’s nice to think that we can keep it that way without using unnecessary chemicals to develop film. Everyone here at McLoughlin Dental Care much prefers digital dental x-rays because they are stored online and can quickly be retrieved if necessary, without the need to search for hard copies of patient’s files.
Why Do I Need Digital Dental X-rays?
Your dental examination is in-depth, but Dr. Nimz can only see your teeth above the gum line. Other parts of your mouth are hidden from view and include your tooth roots and the contact areas in between your teeth. Digital x-rays show these hidden areas in great detail which is extremely important for your dental health. Sometimes cavities can develop in the contact areas between your teeth, or a tooth may become infected.
Digital x-ray shows the structures inside your tooth so that any signs of infection are quickly identified. Additionally, dental x-rays help us to plan the most suitable treatment. For example, if you have a tooth infection, then it’s essential to determine the extent of the infection and to be able to visualize it in your tooth so we can remove the infection with root canal therapy. Using a digital x-ray, we can see the progression of the infection, and it also shows us the internal shape of your tooth and your tooth roots. We can then ensure that all infection is thoroughly removed during root canal therapy, so treatment is more efficient. Digital x-rays are frequently used for monitoring teeth yet to emerge, such as wisdom teeth that may be impacted. They can also be used to monitor the growth and development of your jaws or to identify any problems in your jaw joints (temporomandibular joints).
How Frequently Will I Need Digital X-Rays?
Healthy adult patients will need to have dental x-rays reasonably infrequently while children may need them more often. The exact frequency of your dental x-rays will depend on your dental health and your medical history. For example, if we think your risk of dental disease is higher, then we may recommend that you have digital x-rays more frequently, but we only take x-rays when required. You may also need x-rays at other times, and this may be the case if you have a dental injury or another dental problem such as a toothache that requires immediate investigation.
What Are the Different Types of Digital Dental X-Rays?
Digital dental x-rays can be taken inside your mouth (intraoral), or they may be taken outside your mouth (extraoral). Intraoral digital dental x-rays are the most frequently used x-rays, providing enormous detail about the current condition of your teeth.
Intraoral x-rays include:
- Bite-wing X-Rays: You are almost certainly familiar with bite-wing x-rays, where you must bite down on a sensor for an x-ray can be taken in a specific part of the mouth. Bite-wing x-rays are frequently used for detecting decay in between teeth, to check the condition of bone around teeth and to assess the fit and integrity of dental restorations including crowns and fillings.
- Periapical X-Rays: A periapical x-ray shows the entire tooth from its crown to the tip of the tooth root, as well as the bone surrounding the tooth. Periapical x-rays are useful in detecting dental abscesses and for assessing bone loss around the tooth which can occur if you have advanced gum disease.
Extraoral x-rays include:
- Panoramic X-Rays: A panoramic x-ray is taken by a machine that rotates around your head, providing a single detailed image of all your teeth in your upper and lower arch. Panoramic x-rays are very useful for assessing impacted wisdom teeth and other jaw problems, and for planning dental treatments including implants.
Digital dental x-rays are incredibly safe, and our dental team here in Milwaukee, OR are appropriately trained in operating this equipment. Although exposure to radiation is extremely low, we still use protective lead aprons and thyroid collars to limit your exposure even further. It is safe for pregnant women to have digital x-rays which might be necessary in the case of a dental emergency, although whenever possible we will delay taking x-rays until the baby is born. Additionally, digital sensors and plates have protective plastic barriers that are changed for every patient to eliminate the possibility of cross-contamination and infection.