Dentists take X-rays of your teeth at least once a year. This process is critical for diagnosing cavities. X-rays help dentists evaluate the underlying bones, roots of the teeth, and any unerupted teeth in children. They also reveal areas of decay between the teeth, any infections in the bone, and developmental abnormalities.

In some cases, X-rays can even enable a dentist to identify an issue before any symptoms have started!

However, you may have noticed that the machines used to take X-rays look different than they used to. Many dentists, including Warr Pediatric Dental Associates, have started using digital X-ray machines. 

digital xrays dentist

Read on to learn why we have made the change to digital!

What is the difference between traditional X-rays and digital X-rays?

Traditional X-rays

Traditional X-rays (what most people think of as an X-ray) use photographic film. Film is placed in the mouth, and then the mouth is exposed to X-rays. X-rays pass through the various structures of the mouth to create an image on the film. Dense structures (like bones and teeth) appear lighter because fewer X-rays reach the film. Less dense structures (like muscle and gums) appear darker because more X-rays reach the film.

Digital X-rays

Digital X-rays are created by placing an electronic sensor inside the mouth instead of film. X-rays are then directed at the sensor. Since the electronic sensor is much more sensitive than film, very few X-rays are required to create an accurate image.

What are the benefits of digital X-rays?

Digital X-rays are safer than traditional X-rays

All dental X-ray examinations (both digital and traditional) involve very low doses of radiation, which makes the risk of harmful effects extremely small. The areas exposed to X-ray beams are kept as small as possible, and lead aprons are used to minimize additional exposure. 

While traditional X-rays are still considered safe by the medical and dental community, digital X-rays produce 80% less radiation than traditional. In other words, while it is considered highly unlikely that you would develop issues from occasional traditional radiation exposure, it is even less likely with the process used in digital X-rays.

Digital X-rays are better for diagnostic purposes

For your dentist to make an accurate diagnosis, especially in small areas like between teeth, having the highest quality image is incredibly important.

Digital X-rays are available for analysis within seconds of being taken. Plus, the digital X-ray machine takes such high quality images that the results can be enlarged swiftly and easily to see even the smallest potential issues. Resizing can happen without any distortion or degradation of the image. Both distortion and degradation are common issues with traditional X-rays. 

We choose digital X-rays because we don’t want anything standing in the way of a swift and accurate diagnosis for any dental issue your child may be facing.

Digital X-rays are easier to share

Traditional X-rays degrade over time due to exposure to light and the gradual fading or warping of the materials they are printed on. Digital X-rays, on the other hand, can be easily transferred to anyone who needs them as a computer file. The files do not degrade and can be shared as many times as necessary.

Plus, sharing with other providers (such as dental surgeons or other medical practitioners) can happen immediately, rather than having to wait several days for traditional X-rays to be mailed or delivered via carrier.

Another reason that digital X-rays are easier to share is that they are more cost effective. Traditional X-rays require special film and special development processes. Both of these factors make traditional X-rays more expensive than digital X-rays, which can be immediately transferred from the X-ray machine to a computer.

The cost effective nature of digital X-rays empowers dentists and other medical providers to order X-rays whenever they feel the information would be helpful, rather than having to take into consideration the additional costs of traditional X-rays.

Expect that your child will need an X-ray at their next dental appointment? We’re happy to answer any questions about what to expect for your child before their appointment!

Give us a call at 336-887-9277 to learn more about digital X-rays and to set up your next dental appointment.