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Digital radiography, also known as digital x-ray technology, represents the latest advancement in dental imaging. Unlike traditional X-ray films, this technique employs an electronic sensor to capture and store the digital image on a computer. This digital format allows for instant viewing and enlargement, aiding dentists and dental hygienists in the early detection of issues. Remarkably, digital X-rays reduce radiation exposure by 80-90%, significantly lower than the already minimal levels associated with traditional dental X-rays.
Dental X-rays play a pivotal role as essential diagnostic tools, revealing vital information not visible during routine dental exams. Dentists and dental hygienists utilize this information to accurately identify hidden dental abnormalities, enabling precise treatment planning. Without X-rays, potential problem areas might remain undetected. These X-rays can uncover various dental issues such as abscesses, cysts, bone loss, tumors (both cancerous and non-cancerous), decay between teeth, developmental abnormalities, poor tooth and root positions, as well as problems inside a tooth or below the gum line. Detecting and addressing dental problems at an early stage can save time, money, discomfort, and preserve your natural teeth.
As for safety concerns, digital X-rays emit significantly lower radiation levels compared to traditional counterparts. Besides being safer for patients, digital X-rays are faster and more comfortable to capture, reducing the time spent in the dental office. Additionally, the digital format eliminates the need for developing X-ray films, thus reducing harmful waste and chemical disposal into the environment.
While digital X-rays are safe, dentists take necessary precautions to minimize patient exposure to radiation. These precautions involve taking only essential X-rays based on individual dental health needs, medical history, symptoms, age, and disease risk. New patients often undergo a full mouth series of dental X-rays, which remains valid for three to five years. Bite-wing X-rays, which capture the upper and lower teeth biting together, are recommended once or twice a year during recall visits to identify new dental problems. Panoramic X-rays are utilized when necessary, ensuring comprehensive and precise dental care.