Conventional Dental X-rays
Radiography or X-ray is a probably the most important diagnostic tool for the dentist. In traditional X-ray imaging rays were made to pass through the teeth and transmitted waves were captured on a chemically coated film on the other side. The film was then processed (developed) in a time consuming darkroom process to show a two dimensional image. This film was viewed in a film viewer panel or against strong light. This film had to be physically stored for later reference, if required, and could not be easily transferred to electrical storage media. It could not be transmitted except physically. Duplication for was also a complicated process. Production and disposal of the film and the chemicals would, of course, have a carbon foot-print (add to greenhouse gases).
Digital Dental X-ray
Digital X-ray is the latest in dental radiography. The main distinction is that it used no chemical film for imaging. Instead, solid state sensors record the output and transmit it to a connected display and storage device. X-ray energy after passing through the tooth illuminates a sensor chip which converts X-ray energy pattern to an electrical charge pattern which is read out pixel-by-pixel in a manner similar to the digital camera in your mobile. The process is instant and no film development process is involved. Digital dental X-ray opens many possibilities for dental diagnostics including the possibility of 3-D imaging.
Advantages of the Digital X-ray System
Digital x-ray system has many advantages over the film x-ray imaging of the past.
- Instant results are available. Time is saved for the patient as well as the dentist. More chair work is possible within
- X-ray exposure represents a cumulative radiation hazard. Using digital X-ray imaging patient exposure to X-rays is reduced because a lower radiation level can be used. Thus digital X-ray imaging has an indirect health advantage.
- No chemicals are consumed. There is no chemical film and no darkroom chemical processes are needed for development. The process has a much smaller carbon footprint. In common terms it means digital X-ray imaging is more ‘environment friendly.
- Since there is no paper film involved, physical storage space is not required. The patient can carry his or her records in her mobile phone or a US memory device. The record can even be mailed to the patient.
- Digital X-ray images can be easily stored for almost indefinite periods without loss of information detail. Chemical film is susceptible to decay and loss of detail over time.
- As there is no film, no disposal issues arise.
- Electronic processing is simple. The image can be enlarged, enhanced, rotated, shifted, or superimposed on another one. Specific sections can be expanded, marked, annotated, and recorded for teaching purposes.
- Can be duplicated and stored in multiple locations.
- Digital record can be instantly transmitted for opinion, education, or any other purposes.
- A wider dynamic range is available compared to chemical films. This means points with very small x-ray transmission and points with very high transmission are visible simultaneously. It is something like being able to hear the tiniest sound and yet being able to hear a loud thunder without pain in the ears.