Digital X-Ray Technology
Modern Dental X-Rays at L.K. Anderson DDS
One of the most important diagnostic tools that we have in dentistry is the ability to take digital X-rays. The X-ray allows the dentist to diagnose and treat infection, bone loss due to gum disease, tumors, possible decay, and fractured teeth (some cracks are too small to see with the naked eye, or they’re under the gumline and not visible on the surface). Without periodic X-rays, your dentist cannot identify and disclose to the patient potential problems, which could lead to serious problems.
Taking a digital X-ray is very similar to taking a traditional X-ray but, that’s as far as it goes. The sensor for the digital x-ray is electronic and connected to a computer. The X-ray can be projected to a screen immediately for the dentist and patient to view.
The benefits to digital X-rays are:
- Less radiation: digital X-rays use up to 90% less radiation than film X-rays, which makes them considerably safer.
- Higher quality images: once on the screen, digital X-rays can be enlarged or magnified for a better visual of the tooth and bone. Brightness, contrast, and color can also be adjusted. If a hard copy is needed, digital images can be printed off.
- Digital images can be emailed to specialists for immediate review.
- Digital X-rays are better for the environment! No chemicals are used to develop the film.
The Value of X-Rays
One of the main goals of a dental exam is checking the teeth for any signs of decay or cavities. The earlier the dentist catches these problem areas, the easier they’ll be to treat, but they often aren’t visible to the naked eye in the early stages. There are many crevices between and around teeth and other small spaces that are difficult to see, and obviously we can’t see the inside of teeth at all without some help from technology. That’s where X-rays come in.
The panoramic X-ray is the wide shot that lets us see the entire dental arch in one image. It shows not only erupted teeth but also incoming adult teeth and wisdom teeth, which is great for being able to see if there will be enough room for them or if they need some extra help or extraction. Panoramic X-rays also help to identify dental cysts, tumors, and abscesses that develop below the gumline in the dental roots and jaw bones.
To get a closer look at an individual region of the dental arch, we use bitewing X-rays. These are the ones where you have to bite down on a piece of plastic to hold the X-ray film in place, then wait for the beep. Normally we’ll take four in total, one for each quadrant of the mouth. These are better than the panoramic shots at showing the gaps between teeth and make it easier to spot cavities and tooth decay.
If we ever need an extreme close-up of a tooth, we might take a periapical X-ray. These are only necessary when it already looks like there’s a problem with that tooth and we need to see it in greater detail, and we can take these X-rays alongside the bitewings.
Modern Diagnostic Tools at L.K. Anderson DDS
No matter what type of x-rays you have taken, dental x-rays are a very important part or your dental exams. They are necessary to help diagnose problems not visible to the naked eye. You can learn more about the technology we use at our practice on our business page, and make sure you check the map for directions before you head our way.