X-rays are an essential component of any dental exam or procedure. A dentist can only see so much with a naked eye. X-rays provide a peek beneath the surface, enabling more accurate diagnosis of cavities, helping determine if tooth decay has penetrated down into gums, or if there are structural problems that need to be addressed.
Digital x-rays are so sensitive that they can now diagnose problems that were undetectable with traditional x-rays, and they do it without exposing your child to high levels of harmful radiation. In fact, digital x-rays emit substantially less radiation than their traditional predecessors.
The means by which this reduction of radiation and increase in precision comes from the switch from old radiation sensitive film that required longer exposure times as well as more powerful radiation to a digital sensor that is able to more precisely create x-ray imagery while using less powerful radiation as it was designed under the ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) design philosophy. This placed an emphasis on creating an effective procedure that reduced waste materials and exposing patients to unnecessary levels of radiation while also not sacrificing on the quality of the end product results.
That resulted in an extremely material-efficient technology that is more accurate than its predecessors and healthier for the patients, reaping rewards in medical costs, patient care quality as well as being more environmentally friendly by more than halving the amount of radioactive material required for each x-ray. One final benefit of saving on materials is that this relatively new technology, while costly to invest into, usually pays itself off within a year of use meaning that it should now be widely available among most practices.
As far as your dentist is concerned though, the biggest benefit of digital X-rays are the access to digital tools that help spot things that would be overlooked in conventional X-rays. Since the data is uploaded immediately to a computer and capable of being inverted, saturated, or overlaid with previous X-rays, dentists are able to track and spot hard to spot cavities, hard to spot gum infections, cysts, as well as track loss of bone and unusual development and use this information to invest into preventative care to stop such problems at the root before they require more invasive procedures and surgeries.
It’s recommended, especially for children, to have a digital X-ray once every 6 months to help keep track of their dental hygiene and save them from the terrifying experience of cavity removal. With regular checkups for digital X-rays and tooth cleaning there should be little need for the more invasive procedures unless of course in the extreme cases of children who rarely brush their teeth and have a voracious sweet tooth.
With the reduced levels of radiation coupled with the undeniable benefits of information beyond what can be seen with the naked eye, digital x-rays are becoming a regular practice with all patients, even those who’d previously been shy about radiation exposure, helping to crack more healthy smiles around the world.