Digital Radiography (digital x-rays)
Digital radiography (digital X-ray) is the latest technology used to take dental X-rays. This technique uses an electronic sensor or Phosphor plate (instead of X-ray film) that captures and stores the digital image on a computer. Orange County Pediatric Dental Group utilizes both systems to capture images. The digital images can be viewed much more quickly than traditional x-ray film. Digital x-ray imaging software has tools that help the dentist enhance the view of the teeth, which makes detection of abnormalities (such as decay and bony defects) much easier than with traditional x-ray film techniques. By seeing decay in the very early stages, we can start our patients on preventive programs that stop decay before the teeth to be treated with traditional fillings.
We have been using digital x-ray imaging for over 18 years.
Dental X-rays are an essential diagnostic tool that provides valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam. Dentists use this information to safely and accurately detect hidden dental problems and to create a comprehensive treatment plan. Without X-rays, problem areas can go undetected.
Dental X-rays help the dentist see:
- Cavities between teeth and cavities around/under old fillings/crowns
- Developmental abnormalities, such as missing or extra teeth
- Unerupted teeth that are poorly positioned (needing intervention)
- Bone loss in the jaw
- Abscesses (infections)
- Cysts and certain types of tumors
- If a young patient will have sufficient room for adult teeth
Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage can save time, money, unnecessary discomfort, and your child’s teeth!
Are dental X-rays safe?
We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment, especially in southern California. Digital X-rays produce a significantly lower level of radiation compared to traditional dental x-rays. Digital X-rays reduce radiation 80-90% compared to the already low exposure of traditional dental X-rays.
To further reduce our patients’ exposure to radiation, we use lead aprons and thyroid collars on our patients. We follow the principle of ALARA (As Low As Reasonable Achievable) to make exposure to ionizing radiation as far below the dose limits as practical. However, for the reasons listed previously, dental x-rays are needed from time to time, because we can’t diagnose what we can’t see.
How often should dental X-rays be taken?
The need for dental X-rays depends on each patient’s individual dental health needs. Your dentist will recommend necessary X-rays based upon the review of your child’s medical and dental history, a dental exam, signs and symptoms, age, and risk of decay. With very young patients and with our patients with special needs, cooperation can factor in the ability to obtain dental x-rays.