Are Digital X-Rays Safer Than Traditional Films?

Pictures of the teeth (x rays) are a very important part of dental diagnosing. They help us clinicians get a better view of what is going on between the teeth and underneath the enamel. We are able to diagnose cavities, gum disease, cysts or tumors, position of wisdom teeth and many other important aids. If decay is noticed soon enough, more conservative measures can be taken to treat the disease process. We are fortunate to be living in the technology age and like everything else digital, we now have digital x rays.

Digital x rays have changed the way we treat patients in many ways. Before a traditional film would require much larger doses of radiation and have to be processed with film and developer. This took much more time to access the appropriate image increasing the time spent in the chair. In addition certain procedures would take longer due to waiting for x rays. Digital x rays are instantly available to be read seconds after exposing the image. In addition to the huge time benefit they also use much less radiation to produce a clearer image! Talk about bang for the buck. It has been estimated that radiation exposure is up to 80 percent less compared to film-based systems. However, there is no question that both methods are exceptionally safe when it comes to overall exposure. Digital x rays also do not require chemicals that are harmful to the environment to develop the image.

Unlike film, digital x rays can be enhanced on the computer to assist in making a more accurate diagnosis. The images can be optimized through sharpening or colorizing to detect cavities much sooner leading to a better prognosis for the patient. Bone loss can be detected much more acutely leading to earlier gum disease diagnosis. We are fortunate to have the advancement of digital x rays in the office leading to better, safer patient outcomes!