Digital radiography (digital x-ray) is the latest technology used to take dental x-rays. This technique uses an electronic sensor (instead of x-ray film) that captures and stores the digital image on a computer. This image can be instantly viewed and enlarged helping the dentist and dental hygienist detect problems easier. Digital x-rays reduce radiation 80-90% compared to the already low exposure of traditional dental x-rays.
Dental x-rays may reveal:
Abscesses or cysts.
Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors.
Decay between the teeth.
Poor tooth and root positions.
Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line.
Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage may save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort, and your teeth!
The cephalometric X-ray is a unique tool, which enables the dentist to capture a complete radiographic image of the side of the face. X-rays in general offer the dentist a way to view the teeth, jawbone and soft tissues beyond what can be seen with the naked eye. Cephalometric X-rays are extraoral, meaning that no plates or film are inserted inside the mouth. Cephalometric and panoramic X-rays display the nasal and sinus passages, which are missed by intraoral bitewing X-rays.
Cephalometric X-rays are usually taken with a panoramic X-ray machine. The adapted machine will have a special cephalometric film holder mounted on a mechanical arm. An X-ray image receptor is exposed to ionizing radiation in order to provide the dentist with pictures of the entire oral structure. The advantage of both cephalometric and panoramic X-rays is that the body is exposed to less radiation.
Cephalometric X-rays are not as common as “full sets” or bitewing X-rays, but they serve several important functions:
Provide views of the side profile of the face.
Provide views of the jaw in relation to the cheekbone.
Provide information about “bad bites” or malocclusions.
Allow measurement of the teeth.
Identify fractures and other injuries to the teeth and jawbone.
Assists in orthodontic planning.
Panoramic X-rays are extremely versatile in dentistry, and are used to:
Assess patients with an extreme gag reflex.
Evaluate the progression of TMJ.
Expose cysts and abnormalities.
Expose impacted teeth.
Expose jawbone fractures.
Plan treatment (full and partial dentures, braces and implants).
Reveal gum disease and cavities.
Are dental x-rays safe?
We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. Digital x-rays produce a significantly lower level of radiation compared to traditional dental x-rays. Not only are digital x-rays better for the health and safety of the patient, they are faster and more comfortable to take, which reduces your time in the dental office. Also, since the digital image is captured electronically, there is no need to develop the x-rays, thus eliminating the disposal of harmful waste and chemicals into the environment.
Even though digital x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered very safe, dentists still take necessary precautions to limit the patient’s exposure to radiation. These precautions include only taking those x-rays that are necessary, and using lead apron shields to protect the body.