Digital x- rays are a vast improvement in all areas. The sensitive sensors used allow for reduced exposure to radiation. The images are immediately seen on a computer screen in the operatory, which leads to no wait time for film development, and an easier way to discuss issues with patients, as the images are easy to read. The sensors are ergonomic for more patient comfort, and the images are clinically meaningful.
The standard size of traditional X-rays can make viewing difficult, but digital radiography has done away with the "one size fits all" mentality. Once on the screen, digital X-rays can be enlarged or magnified for a better visual of the tooth's structure. Brightness, contrast and color can also be adjusted, allowing your dentist to see small cavities easier. If you need a hard copy of your X-ray, digital images can also be printed out.
Digital images can be e-mailed to a dental specialist for immediate review. Digital X-rays are taking away the expense and time needed to copy files and mail them to another dentist, making it easier to transfer dental records.
Not only are they an excellent diagnostic tool, but they decrease radiation to the patient by over 80%.
The following types of dental X-rays are commonly used.
Bitewing (check-up) X-rays:
- Periapical X-rays show the entire tooth, from the exposed crown to the end of the root and the bones that support the tooth. These X-rays are used to find dental problems below the gum line or in the jaw, such as impacted teeth, abscesses, cysts, tumors, and bone changes linked to some diseases.
One advantage of the panoramic X-ray is its ease of use. Unlike other X-rays where the sensoris placed inside the patient's mouth, the panoramic film is contained in a machine that moves around the patient's head. Some people may be familiar with the panoramic X-ray because it is usually taken when the wisdom teeth are being evaluated. The X-ray will also reveal deep cavities and dental gum disease, but it is not as precise as bitewing or periapical X-rays. The panoramic X-ray has many other applications, including evaluating patients with past or present TMJ or jaw joint problems; those who require full or partial removable dentures, dental implants or dental braces; those who are at risk or suspected of having oral cancer symptoms or other tumors of the jaw, have impacted teeth (especially impacted wisdom teeth) or have had any recent trauma to the face or teeth (i.e. can help identify a fractured jaw); and for those who can not tolerate other types of films (severe gaggers).
The panoramic X-ray is an important part of a thorough dental examination. We recommend a panoramic X-ray once every three to five years for our patients.
Why It Is Done?
Dental X-rays are done to:
- Find problems in the mouth such as tooth decay, damage to the bones supporting the teeth, and dental injuries (such as broken tooth roots). Dental X-rays are often done to find these problems early, before any symptoms are present.
- Find teeth that are not in the right place or do not break through the gum properly. Teeth that are too crowded to break through the gums are called impacted.
- Find cysts, solid growths (tumors), or abscesses.
- Check for the location of permanent teeth growing in the jaw in children who still have their primary (or baby) teeth.
- Plan treatment for large or extensive cavities, root canal surgery, placement of dental implants, and difficult tooth removals.
- Plan treatment of teeth that are not lined up straight (orthodontic treatment).
Without X-rays, dentists may miss the early stages of decay between teeth.
The digital x-ray sensor.
information courtesy of webmd.com