The x-ray is an essential part of a routine dental examination, as it gives the dentist a look at the tooth structure beneath the gum line as well as the jaw bone structure. While the x-ray has long been a part of the dental examination, recent advances in technology have allowed for increased use of the digital x-ray. Benefits of the digital x-ray over traditional film x-rays include:
- With digital x-rays, the dentist is able to project a panoramic image of the patient's entire mouth onto a monitor located in the treatment room. This allows the patient to see exactly what the dentist sees, which is beneficial in explaining issues and prospective procedures and allows the patient to feel as though he or she is part of the treatment discussion.
- Digital x-rays expose patients to up to 90 percent less radiation than traditional (film) x-rays.
- Since digital x-rays require no chemical fixers or developers, they are much more environmentally friendly than traditional film x-rays.
- Digital x-rays produce images that are much clearer and more comprehensive than those created by traditional film x-rays.
- Because digital x-rays are instantly displayed on a computer screen rather than printed onto films which need to be viewed against light, the dentist is able to instantly read the x-rays. Furthermore, the dentist is able to alter images by zooming in, enlarging, or highlighting certain areas of the picture to more clearly see potential problems and to explain them to the patient.