Dentist in Los Angeles

Digital x-ray is a type of dental x-ray that does not use film, but instead uses digital x-ray sensors that produce a computer image of the teeth and gums. This innovative and convenient method of dental imaging is an excellent diagnostic tool that gives detailed information about the health of the teeth, the gum tissue, and the surrounding jaw bone. It can even be used along with traditional film x-rays to produce digital images.

Digital images can be sent to specialists via computer for further interpretation, making diagnosis and treatment easier for the collaborating dental team when complex issues arise. For example, if a tooth extraction is needed, the detailed digital dental x-ray image can easily be sent to an oral surgeon for further analysis.

Types of Digital X-Ray

Digital x-rays can be taken to view structures that are either inside or outside the mouth. These are intraoral and extraoral x-rays, respectively. One common type of intraoral x-ray is the bitewing, in which the patient is asked to bite down on a box wrapped in plastic. This type of x-ray can locate tooth decay in between the teeth as well as issues with alignment and the beginnings of gum disease.

Extraoral digital x-rays, like the panoramic x-ray, are used to view the whole mouth in one single image. This is useful for planning dental implant treatment, for finding impacted wisdom teeth, or for diagnosing tumors or issues with the jaw. Cone beam computerized tomography, or CBCT, is another type of extraoral imaging technique that can diagnose bone issues like fractures or tumors.

Advantages of Digital X-Ray

Digital dental x-rays have many advantages over the more traditional film x-rays. Because the images are digital, the sharpness and detail of the image can be adjusted to reveal small areas of decay or infected gum tissue that may be difficult to see on film.

This helps diagnose a dental issue and also makes it more convenient to electronically send the images to other specialists. Digital dental x-rays are also environmentally friendlier because there is no need for the chemical processing or disposal of materials that film x-rays require, and since the film does not need to be developed, the images can be viewed instantly. Digital dental x-rays also require much less radiation to use than does the traditional film, reducing radiation exposure risk for patients and personnel by as much as 50 to 80 percent.

Risks of Digital X-Ray

As long as digital dental x-rays are used according to recommendations, they are wonderful and safe diagnostic tools. However, using digital dental x-rays properly requires specialized training that involves periodic updates and continuing education. Infection control is also important because the digital sensors and plates cannot be sterilized. Instead, they are covered with protective plastic barriers that must be changed between patients.

Even though there is less radiation involved in digital dental x-rays than there is in film x-rays, protective lead aprons should still be worn by patients, especially if they are pregnant women or women of childbearing age. While the initial investment cost of a digital x-ray system can be costly, our investment is cost-effective as it speeds up the processing of insurance claims and makes it easier to store and share dental files for our patients.

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