Today’s dentist is no more likely to use traditional x-ray film than Facebook users might be expected to take pictures with film cameras, have the images developed in a lab, and mail them to their friends. Now, dentists are bypassing film and chemical processing in favor of digital x-ray sensors. With sensing pads positioned precisely in the mouth, information is sent to a digital image capturing device that displays x-ray images of the patient’s teeth on a screen for immediate viewing. This technically advanced process saves time and allows images to be transferred, enhanced, and stored in a computer. A technique known as “subtraction radiography” also makes it possible to compare current images with older ones to show changes.
Digital x-rays reduce radiation by 80 percent to 90 percent compared to the already-low exposure of traditional dental x-rays.