Benefits of Intraoral Digital Radiology

Having x-rays taken of the teeth is a necessary and essential part of the visit to the dentist. This imaging technology is primary in improving diagnostics, discovering cavities and other dental issues because it takes pictures with the “film” inside of the mouth. This film is generally a small, sterilized-covered device that replaces the uncomfortable cardboard type previously used.

Dental professionals are sometimes reluctant to upgrade to digital radiography practices due to hardware and software costs and the time involved in training staff on the use of the technology. However, once installed and in use, dentists are happy with the results.

“Digital radiography is eminently superior with regard to recordkeeping, backup, transmission of images, and integration with practice management systems. Digital imaging is a dynamic medium compared to the static film image” (2011).

Utilizing digital radiology allows the dental professionals to provide better care for the patient and oftentimes right in the operatory. The patient can see the image immediately side-by-side with the dentist. Patients get a better explanation of the diagnosis and become more proactive in their dental health. The digital images become an important part of the patient’s electronic health records (EHRs).

As with any new technology, dental professionals should shop around for equipment that works best for them and their practice. The benefits of using digital radiology are numerous including eliminating the costs associated with film, processing equipment and chemicals, and storage.

“Digital radiology typically pays for itself over time, enabling significant savings in staff time from processing, mounting, filling, retrieving, copying, and sending images. The additional real dollar savings in chemicals, film, and processor repair costs will in time pay for the sensor and computer hardware” (2011).

With dental practices converting to digital processes, integrating will take time. Some offices are still using film exclusively while others are new and completely digital. They should seek equipment and vendors that will tailor to your needs as you upgrade in technology processes.

Lessons learned:

• Intraoral digital radiology is more effective for diagnostics, with clearer images that can be manipulated.
• Intraoral digital radiology “film” is less cumbersome and painful for patients.
• Upgrading to digital radiology will improve the practices’ return on investment.
• Intraoral digital radiology software can integrate with practice management software.
• Images can become a part of the patient’s EHRs.
• Digital radiology improves patient safety with less radiation.
• Digital images store better than film; film degrades overtime.
• Seek equipment and vendors to tailor to your practices’ needs.

Levato, C. M. (2011, Nov./Dec.). Intraoral digital radiology: a safe, cost-efficient imaging solution. Compendium; 48-50. Retrieved from July 8, 2012.