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Digital X-rays – Different Types | Advantages | Uses | Safety | Frequency

New inventions in dental technology have improved the way dentists practice. Recent techniques allow patients to receive dental treatment without the pain and time associated with traditional dentistry. Technology in dental care is even being developed to make dental X-rays safer and more convenient. While dental X-rays radiate a meager amount of radiation, and every precaution is reserved to protect patients from exposure, several dental patients may still put off dental X-rays for safety reasons. Dental X-rays bring up other issues for some patients, including the wait time for the film to develop and environmental concerns. Researchers in the dental field and the dentists are addressing these issues with digital radiography, a high-tech replacement for traditional dental X-rays. With technological advancement, in today’s time, it has been proven that digital X-rays have no harmful effects on an average person. It is necessary to have digital x-rays done annually, to diagnose the status of oral health.

What are Digital Dental X-rays?

Digital radiography (known as digital X-ray) uses an electronic sensor instead of a traditional X-ray film to capture X-ray images. The digital images are then easily stored directly to a computer almost immediately without wasting time.

Today, there are conventional dental X-rays that use film and digital X-rays or digital radiography. Both are a physical process, and they are similar. Digital radiography is when your dentist inserts a sensor into your mouth to capture images of your teeth/tooth. With digital x-rays, the digital sensor is an automated tool and is directly connected to a computer. Once the dentist takes the X-ray, the image is projected on a screen for your dentist to view.

Difference between regular X-rays, digital X-rays, and 3-D x-rays – How are they different?

  • Regular X-rays capture images on film and, once exposed, cannot be changed. Radiation is high, and exposure is not suitable for health.
  • Digital X-rays are much better than regular X-rays. The main advantage of digital X-rays is that they use significantly lower radiation. The patients are safer because they are not exposed to much radiation. Secondly, the image can be operated using computer software, making it easy for the dentist to magnify and alter to enhance viewability. It creates a significant difference in the way the dentist evaluates the X-rays and diagnosis of your dental treatment. 
  • With high-tech advances, it is possible to house 3D CT equipment within dental offices. The cone beam machines are now used for evaluating and diagnosis, as well as planning for treatment. It is typically used for implant surgeries. The 3D equipment not only allows the dentist to take accurate measurements in all the dimensions, but it also offers information on density. It means, along with the bones and hard tissues visible, the soft tissue is also visible.
  • When the dentist uses 3D CT, the dental implant treatment is “flapless.” There is very little post-operative pain, which means that there are no large incisions, or the dentist can avoid large incisions. Planned procedures and treatments are much faster, and the cure is predictable.

 Advantages of Digital X-rays ( Digital Dental Radiography)

Significantly less amount of radiation

  • Equipment used in digital x-rays emits a lesser amount of radiation. With Digital X-rays, there is 90 percent less radiation than the traditional film X-rays. While conventional dental X-rays are relatively safer, digital radiography is an excellent option for those who take X-rays regularly. It is also a good option for persons who are apprehensive about radiation during treatment.

Shorter Dental Appointments

  • Radiography can shorten the dental appointments. With conventional dental X-rays, one has to wait while your dentist develops the film. In digital radiography, the sensor produces the picture instantly and projects the image onto a computer monitor immediately.

Higher Quality Images 

  • The regular size of traditional X-rays make viewing difficult, but digital radiography has “one size fits all.” Digital X-rays, once on the screen, can be enlarged for better visual of the tooth’s arrangement. Clarity, brightness, contrast, and color can also be adjusted, allowing your dentist to see small cavities. A hard print of your X-ray, digital images can also be printed out immediately.

Dental Records-Transfer

  • Quick review, Digital X-Rays/pictures can be e-mailed to the dental specialist. Digital X-rays have taken away the time and the expense needed to copy files and mail them to another dentist or specialist. It is easier now to transfer dental records and also get a second opinion almost immediately. More offices are shifting to electronic patient charts; computers may eliminate the need to mail dental documents.


  • Dental X-rays are environment-friendly. In digital radiography, there are no chemicals that are used to develop the film, no wasted space of a darkroom, and there is no need to pile up files storing film. 

What do dental X-rays reveal?

  • X-rays reveal valued facts that are not detectable in the course of a routine or regular dental examination. They help the dentist to look at what is going on in between teeth and under the gums, then use the information to accurately and carefully detect unseen dental abnormalities. The dentist then creates an accurate treatment plan for the patient. Without digital X-rays, such problem areas undetected. Digital x-ray is a preventative, diagnostic tool used by the dentist to plan and offer an accurate and comfortable treatment. 

Among other things, dental X-rays also reveals

  • Bone loss
  • Decay between the teeth
  • Poor tooth and root positions
  • Developmental abnormalities
  • Abscesses or cysts
  • Problems below the gum line and inside a tooth.
  • Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors
  • Look for damage in a filling and cracks
  • Alert the dentist of possible bone loss from periodontal (gum) disease
  • Help dentist to plan and prepare and place for tooth implants, braces, dentures or any other dental work
  • Detects other problems, such as cysts, cancer or changes caused by diseases of the body

How safe are dental X-rays?

Natural radiation in our environment is inevitable. Research has shown that, in the USA every year, the radiation exposure from regular dental X-rays is approximately 1/100th of the amount of radiation attained from natural sources. It varies from country to country and continents to continents. Additionally, it is a fact that digital X-rays produce up to 90% less radiation compared to regular dental X-rays (Digital radiography). Digital X-rays are not only healthier, but they are also faster and more comfortable. Additionally, it reduces your time spent on the chair. Since the digital X-ray images are taken electronically and automatically, the need to develop the X-rays is eliminated, and the disposal of harmful waste and chemicals into the environment is prevented.

Though digital X-rays emit a low level of radiation; they are safe. The dentist takes essential precautions to avoid patients coming in contact with radiation. One of the precautions includes taking only those X-rays that are necessary — also using lead apron shields to protect the patient.

How frequently should digital dental X-rays be taken? 

The need for dental X-rays depends on individual patients’ dental health. The dentist will recommend Dental X-rays only if they are necessary medically, based upon our review of the patient’s dental history and medical examination. Also, signs and symptoms, age of patients, and danger of disease are taken into consideration. Dental X-rays are needed to detect new cavities or to determine the status of gum condition or for evaluation of growth and development of problems in the gums and surrounding areas.

Digital X-rays are helping many dentists diagnose dental problems, and additional software programs are making their lives even more natural. One such program is called subtraction radiography. Here the dentists match the current images to previous or earlier models of the similar tooth, helping them find the tiniest changes in the patient’s tooth’s arrangements

Digital radiography is gradually attaining exposure. With the cost of digital radiography equipment, digital X-rays are an investment that the majority of professional dental practices are slowly getting to recognize. By 2010 it is projected that half of all dental offices will have the digital x-rays equipment.

Irrespective of the type of dental X-rays, they are an essential part of your visits. Dental X-rays are necessary to help diagnose problems not visible to the naked eye. If you’re concerned about radiation, talk to your dentist.

When you visit Dr. Mohamed Ali at his San Francisco office, he will thoroughly assess your mouth and will present different options for your treatment as needed. He will also advise you on the option best suited for your needs. The billing experts will inspect your insurance benefits and will offer you a complete treatment plan with all the necessary arrangements. Every major dental and medical PPO insurance plans are accepted, including Medicare. There is also an in-office Plan for Health for those who don’t have any insurance. Also, we have partnered with various financial institutions like The Lending Club, Care Credit, Healthcare Finance Solutions to make your treatment extremely affordable. If you have any questions feel free to ask. So sit, relax, and get your dental X-rays done. Call us today to schedule your free consultation, call us at 415.391.7751.

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Rachel Frampton

    I’ve always wanted to try dental digital X-Ray, but I’m worried that it might not be that safe. Gladly, you’ve mentioned that digital X-ray uses lower radiation compared to regular ones. Just in case I’ll push through with this, I do hope that I will be able to find a reliable dentist who’ll be able to perform the said X-Ray on me successfully.

  2. Oscar Morrison

    Thank you for explaining how digital x-rays are safer than regular x-rays since they use much less radiation to achieve a better result. My wife has always been wary of x-rays because of the radiation, but she might need one to look at an injury of hers. Maybe knowing that technology has improved could help ease her concerns a little.

    1. koyeldas1612

      We are glad that our content helped you and your wife in this way.

  3. Franklin White

    I like how you explained that a lot of dentists are able to diagnose problems in peoples’ mouths with digital X-rays. I think a lot of people overlook this and forget how useful X-rays can be. A dentist doesn’t need to start digging around your mouth to find problems anymore because a simple X-Ray and they can find out what’s wrong.

  4. Blog Szkło

    Thanks for the great info! I would never have found this on my own!

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