Dentistry in the Digital Age
By Dr. William Almoney
March 13, 2012
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The Benefits of Digital X-Rays


            During the past several years, the dental profession has made many technological advances in our ability to diagnose, prevent and treat dental disease.  Through the use of digital x-rays, cavity detection devices, digital impression equipment, intra-oral photography, and improvements in dental materials, we are better able to diagnose dental problems and treat them more conservatively than in the past.  Patients have appreciated not only the better treatment they receive, but they also are more active participants in the process because they can now see what we see.

            Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing several advances in dental technology that have allowed us to improve the treatment we provide to patients.  This week we are going to discuss the benefits of digital x-rays in the dental office.

            Dental x-rays have always been a critical part of the diagnosis and treatment of dental disease.  They allow us to see areas that are impossible to evaluate with only a clinical exam.  These areas include between the teeth, under the gum tissue, inside the roots of the teeth and the jaw bone.  Without dental x-rays, it would be difficult to detect tooth decay, tooth infection, or periodontal disease until it was well advanced and more difficult and costly to treat.  Dental x-rays are therefore very important in maintaining dental health.  However, the diagnostic ability of x-rays is only as good as the x-ray itself.

Digital x-rays offer several advantages over traditional film x-rays.

  1. Higher Image Quality:  Currently, digital x-rays offer better quality images of the teeth and bone than traditional film x-rays.  In addition, the size, contrast and brightness of the x-ray can be adjusted to improve the image, and computer software is even available to evaluate the x-ray for dental disease.
  2. Lower Radiation:  Digital x-rays require much lower radiation than traditional x-rays.  In fact, in our office we have been able to reduce the radiation exposure by more than 60% and still have images that are better than film x-rays.
  3. Easier Sharing:  Digital x-rays can be sent electronically to insurance companies, dental and medical specialists, as well as patients.  With traditional x-rays, making duplicates is required (which always resulted in a poorer image), and these are then mailed or delivered directly.  This often delays treatment or insurance reimbursement.  With digital x-rays, we are able to communicate better with insurance companies and other doctors.
  4. Better Patient Education:  Trying to show a patient tooth decay or infection with a one-inch x-ray was impossible.  By displaying digital x-rays on computer monitors or high-definition TV’s, patients are better able to understand their dental health and can make more informed decisions about their treatment.
  5. Environmentally Friendly:  Digital x-rays do not require chemical solutions to develop the image.  These developing solutions can pose certain health and environmental risks if not handled properly.  Digital x-rays eliminate the need for these solutions.

Digital x-rays are one way technology has improved dentistry, and ever since our office began using the digital x-rays we have been very pleased.  The image quality is amazing and our patients appreciate seeing their x-rays on the TV.  Over the next few weeks we will continue discussing technology in dentistry.  If you have any questions about dental technology, you may call our office at (937) 434-8870 or e-mail me at [email protected].

William D. Almoney, D.D.S.