Thanks to advanced in modern technology, taking an x-ray at the dentist is now safer than ever. Instead of traditional methods using x-ray film, the electronic sensor inserted into your mouth is connected to a computer. After the x-ray is taken, the image is viewable instantly on the screen.
The most obvious benefit of digital x-rays for the patient is reduced exposure to radiation, with digital x-rays emitting up to 90% less radiation than their traditional counterparts. Given that traditional x-rays already emitted relatively low radiation, the amount emitted from digital x-rays is negligible and completely safe.
The purpose of performing dental x-rays is to find abnormalities that were not detectable during a routine dental exam. Using x-ray images, a trained dental professional is able to detect decay between teeth, changes in bone density caused by gingivitis, the integrity of existing restorations, the condition of bone and root structure, and much more.
It is imperative to supplement a visual examination with x-ray imaging in order to more fully detect, diagnose, and treat oral health problems before they progress. We recommend taking a full series of digital x-rays approximately every three to five years. Bitewing x-rays are recommended 1-2 times per year.
Digital X-Ray Safety
With digital x-ray technology, early prevention of dental problems is safer than it has ever been before. While many patients may be fearful of radiation emitted during an x-ray, it is important to understand that low doses of radiation are completely normal and harmless to the human body.
The amount of radiation emitted during a traditional dental x-ray has been shown to be approximately equivalent to the amount of radiation you would naturally be exposed to on a normal day (called background radiation). Keeping this in mind, consider that a digital x-ray will emit just 10% of a traditional x-ray. What this means is that a digital x-ray emits the same amount of radiation that you would receive by standing outside for approximately 2 hours.
Benefits of Digital X-Rays Vs. Traditional X-Rays
In addition to being safer than traditional x-rays, they are more comfortable for the patient and they are faster to administer.
Like all other digital files, digital x-ray images have the added benefit of being easily shared between other medical professionals. And once received, they are stored much more easily and safely than traditional film x-rays. And because they are digital files, they reduce the waste generated by film, thus making them better for the environment.