Digital Radiography Improves Dental Diagnosis

Digital radiography is taking over the task of film in the dental office. Dentists like it; patients like it; it’s better for the environment; it’s just better hands down for the dental practice. Yet, there are still dental offices that lag for a myriad of reasons: expensive to convert or upgrade, questionable learning curve, and/or the office is simply set in its ways. Regardless of the reason, eventually, digital radiography will be standard.

“Most importantly, digital radiography has improved our patients’ treatment experiences. Film x-rays are uncomfortable; patients would complain that the “cardboard” cut the roof of their mouths or made them gag, no matter how careful we were to place them properly. Digital radiography uses a sensor for image capture that is shaped like a small, rounded wafer. During a full-mouth series of x-rays, we quickly and efficiently reposition the sensor, reducing the possibility for the gag reflex to kick in, and because of the cord placement, we can take vertical and horizontal bitewings and all periapicals with a single sensor” (2008).

Digital x-rays offer more clarity and therefore improve diagnostics. With electronic health record (EHR) integration, the patient’s images will be available for future exams as well as for electronic transfer to other dental professionals. Also, imaging may be available to medical providers.

“With digital technology, we no longer need to mount film; the software does it automatically. If referring dentists or insurance companies need copies, again- with a click the images can be emailed or printed on the spot. We can even quickly print out copies for the patient to take home” (2008).

Digital radiology hardware and software packages can be tailored to fit the dental practice’s needs. Converting or upgrading to digital radiography can be incremental as it may reduce staff anxieties that may accompany new technologies. Also, the software should be integrated with or compatible with existing practice management software and EHRs.

Lessons learned:

• Digital radiography improves dental diagnosis.
• Digital radiography improves patients’ dental experiences.
• Digital radiography in more cost effective and efficient.
• Digital radiography software should integrate with existing system.
• Digital radiography allows patients to see images with dentist at chair-side.

Rice, S. (2008, Nov.). Digital radiography: a practice-changing experience. RDH; 66-69. Retrieved from July 8, 2012.