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 dental work such as root canals and dental implants.

It is no surprise that advances in technology has brought about the implementation of dental digital x-ray equipment. It is one of the newest state-of-the-art tools available to aid dentists, but because dental digital x-ray systems are so new and expensive, they are not yet commonplace.

The main differences between digital dental x-rays and regular x-rays are their ease of use. In digital radiography, the film is replaced with a digital dental x-ray sensor. This digital x-ray sensor receives the x-rays in much the same way as a film does, but instead of developing 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 images. 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, so that a dentist can intervene at an early stage.

One of the concerns of dentists is to minimize radiation exposure to its 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 even safer than regular x-rays. However, digital dental x-ray radiation exposure is so low that the benefit would only be very slight.

The digital dental x-ray price is the main disadvantage of these x-rays over conventional x-rays. They presently cost 3-5 times more than regular units, and athough they are extremely useful in subtraction radiography, the image quality is not generally any better than that of film.

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