Digital radiography (digital imaging) is the latest technology used to take dental images. 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 imaging reduce radiation 80-90% compared to the already low exposure of traditional dental X-rays.
Dental images 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 digital images, problem areas can go undetected.
Dental imaging may reveal:
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.
Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage can save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort, and your teeth!
Are dental images safe?
We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. Digital images produce a significantly lower level of radiation compared to traditional dental x-rays. Not only are digital images better for the health and safety of the patient, they are faster and more comfortable to take, which reduces your time in the dental office. Also, since the digital image is captured electronically, there is no need to develop the image, thus eliminating the disposal of harmful waste and chemicals into the environment.
Even though digital images 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 images that are necessary, and using lead apron shields to protect the body.
How often should dental images be taken?
The need for dental images depends on each patient’s individual dental health needs. Your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend necessary images based upon the review of your medical and dental history, a dental exam, signs and symptoms, your age, and risk of disease.
A full mouth series of dental images is recommended for new patients. A full series is usually good for three to five years. Bite-wing images (images of top and bottom teeth biting together) are taken at recall (check-up) visits and are recommended once or twice a year to detect new dental problems.