Digital imaging, or digital radiography, is a valuable diagnostic tool frequently used in dentistry, as well as other disciplines. It is an innovative technique that uses a computer to efficiently manipulate and store X-ray images. Using this technology provides immediate results, readily available for sharing and discussion with patients and with other medical or dental professionals.
Uses of Digital Imaging
Since X-rays are always a part of comprehensive preventative and curative dental treatment, digital imaging is especially helpful in this field. As an objective means of delivering visual information, digital imaging assists in:
- Detecting cavities
- Implementing cosmetic treatments such as tooth whitening
- Evaluating results of treatments for plaque and gingivitis
- Measuring for endodontic procedures
- Measuring for surgical implantations
Digital imaging is also important and effective in tracking the progress of orthodontic treatment.
Benefits of Digital Imaging
X-rays have long been considered an important part of dental care. The new technology that enables dentists to use digital X-rays has several advantages over traditional X-rays. These include:
- Immediate diagnostic results
- Reduced radiation exposure
- Electronic storage of data
- High quality image production
While exposure to dental X-rays has generally been considered safe, digital X-rays reduce the patient's radiation exposure by more than 50 percent.
The accelerated speed of the digital process, in which the need for a darkroom and chemical processing is unnecessary, is especially important during surgical procedures when time is of the essence. When digital X-rays are taken, usable images are available within seconds, rather than minutes.
While the images produced during digital imaging are considered clear and readable, there is some debate about the clarity of digital versus film images.
- Medline Plus
- National Institutes of Health
- National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
- U.S. National Library of Medicine