It’s been used in the dental industry for more than a decade, yet still, oral digital imaging isn’t as common a household word as you might think. Most people still think of x-rays and film when they think of the dental office, but with today’s improvements in how x-rays are taken, your dental professional can get a much clearer picture of what’s really going on inside your mouth.
Oral digital imaging uses computers instead of film for the big reveal. Images are captured by one of three methods and then displayed on a computer monitor for your oral care team to investigate. The ways in which pictures are taken using this digital process include:
Using digital imagery, your dental professional gets a much more clear, higher resolution image of what’s going on inside your mouth. You’re also not exposed to the amount of radiation that comes along with traditional x-rays. The immediacy is a big plus when it comes to digital images — no waiting for films. Digital images are also easily shared with other members of your dental care team simply by clicking a button to send a file. Additionally, digital imaging is more eco-friendly because no developers or chemicals are needed. To that, add that this type of imagery is more detailed, making it easier to spot problems earlier and that it’s a much faster process for you, for your care team and for your insurance company, and you have a win-win for all involved.
On the negative side, digital imagery equipment is pricey for a dental practice to purchase, which may be reflected in patient rates. Additional training for staff is needed as well before the equipment can be safely used on patients.
Aside from the added cost, there may also be a slightly higher risk of cross-contamination between patients because electronic sensors cannot be sterilized and rely, instead, on individual plastic covers for each patient.
Overall, the advantages of digital imagery in the dental office far outweigh any disadvantages, and dentists and other oral practitioners are well-advised to invest in the machines and training needed to roll out the process.