Sometimes referred to as digital radiography, digital x-rays are a modern version of the traditional dental x-rays that used film. Instead of film, an electronic sensor captures the same information and stores it digitally. The digital image does not require developing, so it can be viewed immediately. It can also be easily enlarged, so problems can be seen more easily. Digital x-rays used 80-90% less radiation.
X-rays are a critical diagnostic tool that can help dental professionals determine the best course of treatment and preventions. X-rays can reveal dental anomalies under the surface of the tooth that can’t be seen with the eye. Without x-rays, some issues can go undetected and untreated until the problem becomes severe enough to either cause pain or become visible.
Dental x-rays can detect:
- Abscesses, cysts, and other growths
- Bone loss
- Tumors, both cancerous and benign
- Decay on hidden surfaces
- Developmental issues
- Bad positioning of the tooth or root
- Problems under the gums
- Problems under the surface of the tooth
When these problems can be detected early, they can be treated more easily, with less cost, less pain, and less risk of tooth loss.
What are the risks?
It’s impossible to avoid radiation exposure, as it’s a normal part of everyday life. However, it’s still sensible to try to minimize excessive exposure. Radiation exposure is far less with digital x-rays than with traditional x-rays. Not only this, they are also faster and more comfortable, and the image can be manipulated or enlarged making it easier for the dentist to interpret. The image is produced without toxic chemicals and without waste.
Even with the low levels of radiation, precautions are still used to protect you against unnecessary exposure, including limiting x-rays and using a lead apron.
How often should I have digital x-rays?
There are no hard and fast rules regarding how often x-rays should be done. Your dentist or hygienist will make recommendations based on your history. More x-rays may be done if some symptoms or risk factors are present, or if the exam suggests that a problem may exist that cannot be seen, or cannot be seen adequately.
As a general rule of thumb, however, patients should have a full set of x-rays every 3-5 years, with bitewing x-rays at regular checkups every 6-12 months.
To make an appointment for your digital x-ray, call us at (619) 640-5100