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Digital X-Rays

11.23.16 in General

Healthy Mouth Sounds- Dental x-rays in a Digital World


Since the first radiographic image in 1895, we have been refining the science of Radiography. Somewhere about the late 1980’s to the mid-1990’s, dentistry began using digital radiography. There have been at least 20 years of feedback from this new clinical science, and though health care will continue to refine outcomes, one thing is clear. Digital dental radiography is healthy and here to stay!


It seemed like a “no-brainer” to think that a digital version of dental imaging would be an improvement and the future for dentistry; however, there have been and continue to be obstacles to its universal use. Let’s talk about why.


First of all, using a digital x-ray system means new equipment, new training, and even schedule and fee structure changes for many practices. After all, we all had plenty of radiographic film, chemicals, and dark room facilities. Our patients and team members were use to a system that works. Why change?


Secondly, even though the technology is cool, and promise of great images existed, would there actually be a gain to the patients and providers?


It has been over 20 years and “the jury is in!” Digital dental radiographs are wonderful.


Digital radiographs in dentistry falls into 2 categories. Direct, and indirect flat plane receptors (or sensors). X-radiation creates either an electrical charge on a sensor, which is transformed to an image, or in the indirect method, x-radiation is transformed to light, which then produces an image.

The image we see is based on grey scale. Conventional radiographs offers a grey scale of 16-25 shades of grey, while digital radiography boast 256 shades of grey. So the clarity and contrast is vastly improved using a digital approach. This is significant for a few reasons. As we display this image on a large monitor, we still have good contrast and image quality. This means we no longer hold a little 1” X 2” piece of film up and say to a patient, “do you see that little black area?” We can enlarge the image for all to see and appreciate, and not lose quality. Images can also be enhanced by lightening or darkening, digital measurements can be done directly on the image, and of course, we have immediate display of the image. There is no developing, no dark room, no chemicals, and essentially “no time delay.”

At Family Dental Care, we have actually been able to decrease our fees for radiographs, because of digital x-rays. That is an actual, out-of-pocket savings for you. All we gain is better information.


I know that you know that technology marches on, and the things we can now do with imaging in a digital health care world are truly amazing. The latest and greatest is probably the capability to view images in 3 dimensions. Now, we have really gotten somewhere. The benefits can be tremendous!


So celebrate! The future of imaging is looking more comfortable, less expensive, and more productive for you.


Next blog we begin a new topic- your oral health and overall wellness.

So, stay tuned in and keep smiling. Dr. W.


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Pen Argyl, PA 18072

Gary Williams, DMD

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