Digital radiography (DR) is an advanced form of x-ray inspection that instantly produces a digital radiographic image on a computer. Like other branches of medicine, dental professionals are increasingly using digital dental radiographs to detect better, diagnose, treat, and monitor oral conditions and diseases.
In digital radiography, digital X-ray sensors replace traditional photographic X-ray films to produce enhanced computer images of teeth, gums, and other oral structures and conditions.
Types and Uses of Digital Dental Radiographs
There are two types of digital dental radiographs - intraoral and extraoral. Intraoral radiographs are taken inside, and extraoral radiographs are taken outside the mouth. Intraoral X-rays provide better detail and are used to detect cavities and monitor teeth and bone health. Extraoral X-rays do not provide details like intraoral X-rays and are not used to identify individual tooth problems. However, they are used to detect impacted teeth, monitor jaw growth and development, and identify potential problems between teeth, jaws and temporomandibular joints (TMJ), or other facial bones.
Benefits of Digital Dental Radiography
When compared to traditional dental X-rays, the benefits of digital dental radiographs include the following:
- They reveal even minute details and small hidden areas of decay, bone infections, gum disease, cysts, developmental abnormalities, and tumors that cannot be detected with only a visual dental examination.
- Digital radiographs can instantly be viewed on any computer screen and transmitted electronically to specialists without quality loss.
- They help in the early detection and treatment of dental problems.
- Digital micro-storage technology permits greater data storage capacity on small drives.
- They eliminate the need for chemical processing and disposal of hazardous wastes and lead foil.
- Digital radiographs can be transferred easily to other dentists with compatible computer technology.
- Digital radiograph features like contrasting, colorizing, 3-D, sharpness, flip, zoom, etc., helps in detection and interpretation, which in turn assist in educating patients of the problem/ condition.
- Digital dental images can be easily and safely stored in electronic patient records and sent electronically to insurance companies, referring dentists, or consultants quickly.