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The Use of Digital X-ray Technology

Instead of using electromagnetic radiation and chemical processing to record an X-ray onto film, digital versions use digital sensors to record images onto an image capture device, which then creates a digital image file. This file can then be used by medical staff members, and the file can be attached to a patient’s medical notes for future reference. It can be printed to paper or slide material so can be used the same as any standard X-ray, but without as much risk and usually at lower overall cost.

X-radiation technology, known more simply as X-ray technology, allows accurate images to be captured of a person, animal, or thing’s internal composition. A generator uses strong electromagnetic light paired with a detector; most things, humans included, will naturally absorb some of the light, which is what allows the detector to map out images and specific locations.

When contemplating the change to digital dental in your practice, the choices can be confusing for the dentist. Dental radiography has evolved from film and chemical developers into a highly technical process that involves various types of digital x-ray machines, as well as powerful dental software programs to assist the dentist with image acquisition and diagnostic analysis of the acquired images. When making the decision to purchase dental x-ray machine, the doctor needs to research the available options thoroughly, in order to make an informed choice for the “right” machine for his or her practice.

Most of the earliest X-rays depended on photographic films to capture the images and make them readable. Digital detectors skip this step; rather than using light beamed through objects onto film, it allows for digital scanning and image interpretation. In terms of radiation the two are about the same initially, though digital versions typically have a shorter exposure time and as such tend to be more efficient.

Your dentist or the dental tech inputs the command for the the X-ray machine to send a X-ray through your teeth and into the sensor, effectively taking a photo of your tooth or teeth. The sensor captures the resulting image and sends it through the wire to the computer. Then your dentist will reposition the sensor and take additional digital X-rays until all of your teeth have been X-rayed.

Digital dental radiography requires a slightly different process. Intraoral images are taken by asking the patient to bite down on an X-ray sensor placed inside the mouth. There is much less radiation involved in digital scans than in film-based electromagnetic radiation, so it is usually safe enough to take numerous X-rays and view all of the teeth from multiple angles. This is useful for checking for decay or tooth problems that can be easily missed during a clinical checkup.


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