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Dental x-rays are an important tool for dentists to track your oral health and identify potential issues, like the spreading of gum disease

Examining an X-ray

X-Rays: From Film to Digital

Dental x-rays have traditionally been performed using film, and this system has been in use for decades. The shift from film x-rays to digital x-rays brought with it a lot of benefits, for both the patient and the dentist!

  • Instant results. Digital x-rays are viewable within seconds, versus the time it can take to develop results from a traditional film x-ray.

  • Significantly lower radiation exposure. Digital x-rays can result in up to 70-80% lower doses of radiation versus film. Remember, even film x-rays are safe, so this significant decrease is great news for anyone still worried about the effects of radiation exposure.

  • Easier to examine. Digital photography is easy to pull up on a large screen, zoom in, and even adjust. Sometimes shifts in brightness or contrast can help your dental health professional identify underlying issues that would not be feasible with film-based x-rays.

  • Easier to archive. Digital records are far easier to access and backup. It’s much less likely to lose older x-rays, which can reduce the frequency you need x-rayed and makes it easier for dentists to compare your x-rays over time.

  • Environmentally-friendly. Digital x-rays don’t require using chemicals for development or film, so they can be completed with fewer materials and waste.

Ultimately, digital x-rays offer significant improvements over film-based x-rays. That’s not to say film x-rays have lost their place, though. You’re just as likely to find film x-ray machines as you are to find digital ones at the dentist. Digital offers a lot of convenience, but film x-ray machines still do their job just fine!


What Are Panoramic X-Rays?

Panoramic x-rays, also known as panoramic radiography, are a specific type of x-ray that is done entirely outside of the mouth. While many patient x-rays are designed to help identify cavities and other conditions in the mouth, sometimes it’s necessary to take a larger image of the entire mouth at once with a panoramic x-ray. This is used to spot problems such as bone abnormalities, issues with tooth positioning, or oral cancer.

In addition to offering your dentist a full picture of your mouth at once, panoramic x-rays come with a host of benefits. For one, the machines for these types of x-rays are much less invasive. They do not require the patient to bite down on anything, nor do they require multiple x-rays, allowing them to be completed quickly. Panoramic x-rays are also good for children for the same reason, as all they’re required to do is remain still for just a few seconds. Radiation dosage can be lower as well, since these types of x-rays are done once instead of needing multiple angles.

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