What Is the Difference Between Digital Dental X-Rays and Regular Ones?


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Dental x-ray images, also known as dental radiographs, are one of the most important pieces of equipment a dentist has for keeping teeth, gums and mouth healthy.

A dental x-ray allows dentists to detect problems that are just not visible to the naked eye, such as cracks in fillings, decay in between teeth and bone loss. Dental x-rays are also vital when planning intricate dental work, such as root canals and dental implants.

Digital X-Rays

It is no surprise that advances in technology have brought about the implementation of digital dental x-ray equipment in clinics. This is a state-of-the-art tool that can aid the dentist in not only diagnostics but also during the planning stages of certain intricate procedures, such as implant-based mouth reconstructions.

However, because dental digital x-ray systems are relatively new and much more expensive, they are not yet commonplace in all clinics - even in the west. 

Differences Between X-Ray Systems

The main difference between digital dental x-rays and regular x-rays is their ease of use.

In digital radiography, the film is replaced with a digital dental x-ray sensor; this sensor receives the x-rays in much the same way as a film does, but instead of having to develop the film in a dark room, the digital dental x-ray sensor sends the image directly to a computer where it appears on the screen.

As well as the speed and convenience of this process, one of the major advantages of digital dental x-rays is that a computer can digitally compare an image to previous ones. This process allows a computer to subtract everything out that is the same in two images, only leaving anything that is different. The process is known as subtraction radiography and is capable of highlighting the tiniest of changes, enabling a dentist to intervene at an early stage.

Minimizing Radiation Exposure

One of the main concerns of dentists is to minimize radiation exposure to their patients. Over the years, dental x-ray radiation has become increasingly safe, with radiation levels being equivalent to a few days' exposure to normal background radiation found naturally in the air around us.

Exposure to digital x-ray dental radiation is actually safer than regular x-rays. However, the difference between these different levels of exposure is so slight that it is not considered a significant advantage for dentists to adopt this system over the other. 

Cost of Digital Dental X-Rays

The digital dental x-ray price is the main disadvantage of these x-rays over conventional x-rays.

They presently cost three to five times more than regular units, and although they are extremely useful in subtraction radiography, the image quality is not generally any better than that of film.

More Information About Digital Dental X-Rays

To find a dentist abroad that uses digital x-ray technology, feel free to contact our Customer Care Team with any questions over the phone, email or online chat.  

You can also learn more about digital radiography in dentistry by using the sources section below. 


Kapralos V, Koutroulis A, Irinakis E, Kouros P, Lyroudia K, Pitas I, Mikrogeorgis G. Digital subtraction radiography in detection of vertical root fractures: accuracy evaluation for root canal filling, fracture orientation and width variables. An ex-vivo study. Clin Oral Investig. 2020 Oct;24(10):3671-3681. doi: 10.1007/s00784-020-03245-0. Epub 2020 Feb 21. PMID: 32080760. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32080760/

Radiation in Everyday Life. International Atomic Energy Agency. Website accessed: 13 January 2021. https://www.iaea.org/Publications/Factsheets/English/radlife

Digital Dental Radiography: Zooming in on the Future of Dental Imaging. Consumer Guide to Dentistry. Website accessed: 13 January 2021. https://www.yourdentistryguide.com/digital-radiograph

Raees M, Mohammad A, Izadi A, Jafaryan A. Comparison of Digital Radiography, Conventional Film and Self-Developing Film for Working Length Determination. Iran Endod J. 2018;13(3):381-384. doi:10.22037/iej.v13i3.19355. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6064012/