X-ray technology first came along one hundred years ago, and has revolutionized medical and dental science to such an extent that it’s difficult to imagine either field without x-rays. Dentists use x-ray images (also called radiographs) to diagnose and treat problems like premature gum disease, tooth decay, abnormal growths, and abscesses, even if they are invisible to the unaided eye.
Dentists have used x-rays to save an untold number of teeth and ease the suffering of countless patients. Recent advances in medical science have brought about digital x-rays, an even safer and more effective variation of this method of treatment.
What are Digital X-Rays?
A digital x-ray uses a small electronic sensor that is put inside the patient’s mouth to take an image, which immediately appears on a monitor. Digital x-ray technology first came on the scene around 2 decades ago, offering a bevy of features that traditional x-rays couldn’t match.
First and foremost, they reduced the amount of radiation exposure by up to 90 percent. While scientists have developed faster x-ray films that need less exposure, digital x-rays still offer the safest procedures with the lowest amounts of radiation.
What are the Advantages of Digital X-Rays?
Aside from minimal exposure to radiation, digital x-rays have several benefits. Traditional x-rays use chemical processing, but digital x-rays do not use toxic chemicals or film. This allows us to swiftly show you the images on a monitor without a waiting period.
Digital x-rays provide sharper images, allowing us to glean more information for diagnosis and treatment. We can increase and decrease the contrast and magnify certain areas, even comparing them to a patient’s previous x-rays onscreen. This allows us to see even very small changes to your tooth structure.
Since they’re digital, these x-rays are also easier to store and share, giving both dentists and patients a better method of understanding their diagnoses and treatment choices.
Are Digital X-Rays Safe?
Thanks to digital technology, the risks of x-rays are minimal but nevertheless present. X-rays are a form of radiation that penetrates tissues to create images, and they present a risk of causing cellular changes that can turn into future illnesses. However, we must point out that we encounter other radiation sources in our daily lives, such as the sun, that can also trigger disease.
It’s also widely thought that this can only happen if one receives repeated exposure, not just one instance. But x-rays are still not completely safe despite how much safer medical technology has made them.
For this reason, we only use them if we need to acquire more detailed information for a diagnosis, and the benefit of this information outweighs the minimal risk of the procedure. We don’t use x-rays for every single diagnostic procedure. This is especially the case for computed tomography (CT) scans, which increase the level of exposure but produce an immense amount of information in each scan.
Regardless of which method we use, we make these decisions on a case-by-case basis, and your safety is always our highest priority. Don’t hesitate to present any questions or concerns you may have.
For more information, please contact our office at 214-363-9946.