Advantages of Intraoral Digital Imaging

Image Quality – there is diagnostic value with enhanced gray-scale resolution. Digital imaging uses up to 256 shades of gray compared to radiographic film that shows only 16-25 shades of gray. This allows for better detection of disease, e.g., incipient lesions due to enhanced contrast that can be manipulated, along with density by the dental radiographer (Figure 26). The provider can also change the color of the image to highlight anatomic features, adjust sharpness and brightness, and measure morphology (Figure 26). Due to potential legal issues, manufacturers include a warning feature that appears if the enhanced image does not match the original image. It is recommended copies of the original images be stored on the computer or network server.

Figure 26. Magnified Digital Image for Diagnoses.
Photograph showing Magnified Digital Image for Diagnoses.
Image Source: Schick by Sirona, Sirona Dental, Inc., Long Island City, NY.

Time Savings and Patient Experience – with hard sensor digital images, the time from exposing the sensor to radiation and viewing digital images is decreased. As soon as the x-ray machine exposure button is pressed, the digital image appears on the computer screen when the dental provider walks back into the room. This immediate viewing assists the dental provider with retakes, if applicable, and also helps the provider in educating their patient as they discuss the images displayed on the computer screen, instead of a view box.

Patient Safety – sensor detector sensitivity to radiation requires less exposure time and therefore less radiation to patients. Depending on the radiographic film used in the dental practice, e.g., F-speed, radiation exposure time can be reduced approximately significantly when changing from radiographic film to digital PSP sensors. PSP sensors do require more radiation than solid-state sensors. However, the amount of exposure to radiation is less with PSP sensors than with radiographic film. Due to the ease of retaking digital imaging, the dental practice is strongly encouraged to plan more than one in-office training with the manufacturer’s trainer or local professionals who could provide training sessions with your staff. The time dedicated to troubleshooting different digital receptors will benefit everyone, including less time retaking digital images.

Environment – elimination of radiographic supplies, such as radiographic film and processing solutions. Digital imaging is also beneficial to reduce hazardous waste materials, such as lead foil and silver salts.