Dental radiographs or x-rays are an important part of a complete dental exam. A complete set of 18 x-rays for adults and 10 x-rays for children are usually taken at the initial dental exam. Thereafter 6-8 x-rays called checkup x-rays are taken every 6 -12 months depending on the individual needs. X-rays are essential diagnostic tools for finding hidden interproximal cavities, cysts, tumors, impacted wisdom teeth, determining eruption times of permanent teeth by the extent of root formation and presence of supernumerary teeth (extra teeth).
Digital Radiography, offers some positive advantages over typical film X-rays. The most remarkable is the reduction of radiation exposure, by as much as 80%, which makes dental X-ray taking safer and minimizes concerns about radiation exposure. You should know that 2 dental x-rays deliver 5,600 times less radiation to an unborn child than an upper GI series, 80 times less radiation than a chest x-ray, and 4 times less radiation than a normal day of background radiation playing in the sun. Dental x-rays are necessary and both safe and effective.
Digital imaging has been used by the medical community to make diagnostic information more accessible and more valuable. It is now available for dental offices. These dental x-rays are taken using electronic sensors that send the image directly to a computer. This image is displayed on a LCD monitor, can be enlarged, and can help the patient visualize and understand the doctor's treatment recommendations more easily. It also faciliates the doctor's diagnostic ability in "zooming in" and enlarging a specific area of the x-ray. The digital image only takes 10-15 seconds to appear on the monitor. A side benefit is that digital X-ray is also environmentally friendly. The sensors used do not contain lead foil, like conventional dental film, that needs to be recycled or disposed of as hazardous waste. Also, there are no chemicals or water involved in generating an image, reducing pollution and water consumption.
Digital X-ray generates pictures that are diagnostically equivalent to film based images. Many image enhancement tools allow many viewing options. They allow zooming, brightness and contrast control, reversing, colorization, and other features that can be used to assist the dentist in diagnosing dental problems. The images also can be transmitted electronically for either insurance purposes or to another doctor involved in treatment.
Kids really enjoy being able to actually see their X-rays on the computer screen. It helps them to understand their condition better and gets them involved in treatment. By placing a large image of an x-ray on a monitor that the child can see, we can begin to include the child in the diagnosis. It is a great teaching tool.
Taking the image:
A small, flat sensor is placed in the patient's mouth next to the teeth. The sensor is connected to a computer by a thin wire. Next, an X-ray beam is sent through your teeth and into the sensor, which records the image of your teeth and sends it to the computer. The sensor can then be repositioned to capture other sections of the mouth.