Digital Dental X-Rays vs. Traditional Dental X-Rays

The relatively recent introduction of digital radiography has widened the scope of dental x-rays for dentists across the country and throughout the world. Technology has continued to advance the capabilities and practices of dentists. Unfortunately, the high costs associated with digital x-rays have slowed the transition from traditional dental x-rays to their digital counterpart.

While many patients maintain an aversion to x-rays due to the radiation that exists, most patients are shocked to discover that the amount of radiation present in a full set of dental x-rays only accounts for about 1 percent of their annual radiation exposure. Digital x-rays, on the other hand, actually release radiation levels that are 80-90 percent lower than traditional x-rays. Regardless, radiation exposure should never be a reason for a patient to avoid dental x-rays, as both methods maintain very low levels.

The following are the most significant differences between traditional dental x-rays and digital dental x-rays:

  • Traditional x-rays use electromagnetic radiation to form an image on a film, digital x-rays use an electronic sensor to capture the image to be stored on a computer
  • Traditional x-rays take longer, where as digital x-rays are quickly produced
  • Digital x-rays are easily electronically transferred from one healthcare provider to another, unlike traditional x-rays that must be manually sent
  • Digital x-rays are better for the environment as they do not use harmful waste and chemicals as with the process of film use in traditional x-rays

While there are certainly differences present in the two dental x-ray options, both achieve the same end result of taking an accurate picture of what is going on beneath the teeth and gums. Dentists will use either one of these x-rays types in order to quickly and efficiently detect cysts, tumors, abscesses, bone loss, developmental abnormalities, decay, root issues, problems within the teeth, or trouble below the gum line.

Serving as both a diagnostic and preventative tool, dental x-rays are essential for patients who wish to maintain a healthy mouth. Neglecting to receive dental x-rays when a dentist advises a patient to do so can lead to a wide range of dental problems. As such, everyone is encouraged to visit the dentist at least once, if not twice, a year in order to develop an individual oral health plan.

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