🎶Let's get Digital, Digital. I want to get Digital...🎶
If you've been following our posts or have come in to see our ALFIE dentists, you'll know that we love staying on top of the latest technology - not just because it's got that 'wow' factor and a certain novelty about it, but because it actually makes the experience for our patients better.
We've been taking digital x-rays for way over 10 years at ALFIE Dentistry. While it's not exactly 'new' technology, we're still surprised when we get the old-school x-ray films in the mail. In today's 7-wonders blog post, we'll compare digital x-rays to traditional films.
1) With digital x-rays, the quality of the images is significantly better - so we can zoom in and zoom in again, without losing much data. That means better detection:
* of existing dental issues
* of problems that are just beginning to happen
* and even of potential problems, if oral health doesn't improve
This matters to you, because the longer a dental problem is put off, the costlier and more invasive it will be. So the sooner you can get a diagnosis and treatment for a small issue, the more likely you can avoid having it turn into a big problem and needing uncomfortable/advanced procedures (which are often more costly!)
The best case scenario is if your dentist spots something that may become a problem, warns you about it and then advises you on what actions you can take to prevent it from getting worse. If you diligently take these preventative actions, it may never develop into a problem.
2) Similar to point # 1, we can also adjust for brightness and contrast to make things easier to see for better diagnoses.
3) According to the Canadian Academy of Dental Hygiene, digital x-rays expose patients to 70% less radiation than traditional. We don't like to expose our patients to more radiation that we need to, so the Panoramic x-ray is often only taken once every 3-5 years. Periapical x-rays, that focus on individual teeth are taken as needed (e.g. for a specific issue with a specific tooth). For the small bite-wings - x-rays of the sides of the mouth, we wait at least a year/a-year-and-a-half before re-taking -> These, of course, depend on our patients' susceptibility to dental problems as well as what information we need to fulfill treatment, so it's different for each individual. Rest assured, we're conservative about radiation exposure and digital imaging really helped with that.
4) Digital file transfers between dentists, insurance companies and specialists are quicker and more efficient than traditional. Which means that instead of having to wait for the mail to come (either with a response from insurance or waiting for the previous dentist's x-rays), we can share images almost immediately, once we have patient consent. Even the processing time for these images is faster (YES, we've been in the business long enough to remember having to wait for the traditional x-rays to develop!) In either case, this means that you'll get needed treatment faster.
5) Digital x-rays are more environmentally friendly because we don't have to use chemical processing to produce a physical film (which we'd then have to store for years in a physical patient chart). Even if we're asked to print it out, it'll be on regular paper, which can eventually be shredded and recycled.