In the Pipeline
There's a newer dental X-ray technique that your dentist already may be using or may soon be using. It's called digital imaging. Instead of developing X-ray film in a dark room, the X-rays are sent directly to a computer and can be viewed on screen, stored, or printed out. There are several nice benefits of using this new technology including:
- The technique uses less radiation than the typical X-ray and there is no wait time for the X-rays to develop -- the images are available on screen a few seconds after being taken.
- The image taken, of a tooth for example, can be enhanced and enlarged many times its actual size on the computer screen, making it easier for your dentist to show you where and what the problem is.
- If necessary, images can be electronically sent to another dentist or specialist -- for instance, for a second opinion on a dental problem -- to determine if a specialist is needed, or to a new dentist (if you move).
- Software added to the computer can help dentists digitally compare current images to previous ones in a process called subtraction radiography. Using this technique, everything that is the same between two images is "subtracted out" from the image leaving a clear image of only the portion that is different. This helps dentists easily see the tiniest changes that may not have been noticed by the naked eye.