The SuperKids Pediatric Dental Team

The Difference Between Digital and Regular X-Rays

You may already know that dental x-ray machines create images of your teeth, teeth roots, jaw bones, and other structures in your mouth. You may not have known that there are two different types of dental x-ray machines, though, and that they each work differently. 

Our pediatric dentist in Potomac MD believes it is important for parents to understand how dental x-ray machines work and know about the differences between traditional and digital dental x-rays. This information can help parents get the best care possible for their children, and can help kids have a more enjoyable visit to their local dentist. 

Potomac MD Dentist Discusses Differences between Traditional and Digital X-Rays

While regular dental x-rays and their digital counterparts may seem the same at first glance, they are really quite different – and the difference between the two can mean a great deal when it comes to your child’s oral health. Here are just a few of these differences, and the effect they can have on your child’s dental care.

Traditional and digital x-rays work differently

While traditional and digital x-rays both produce images of the mouth, they both go about it quite differently. The most basic difference is that traditional x-rays require film to produce the image, whereas digital dental radiographs use digital sensors connected by a thin wire to a computer to create enhanced pictures. The different ways of capturing images affect other benefits and drawbacks to traditional and digital x-ray technology.

Traditional x-rays have been around a while; digital x-rays are relatively new

German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen accidentally discovered x-rays in 1890, when he was studying the effects of passing an electric current through various gases. He named it x-ray because he didn’t know the nature of the ray. His most famous radiograph is the x-ray picture of his wife’s hand that showed the bones and tissues of her hand, as well as the ring she wore on her finger.

Digital x-rays appeared on the scene more recently. By the year 2000, most hospitals and radiology clinics had transitioned from old-fashioned analog film to computer radiography. By the year 2007, almost all healthcare professionals – including dentists – were using digital x-rays. While you can still find traditional x-ray machines, digital x-rays are much more popular.

Digital x-rays are more comfortable

Traditional x-rays require your child to bite down on paper, which can cut the inside of your child’s mouth. Biting down on the paper can also cause cramps in your jaw muscles. What’s more, your child would need to wear a lead bib to protect them from any radiation they may receive during the x-rays.

With digital x-rays, your child never needs to bite down on paper. Instead, they will bite down comfortably on a tiny sensor placed at the front of their mouth. This means your child will be more comfortable during their x-ray. 

Digital dental x-rays create better images

While regular x-rays create adequate images, digital dental x-rays create amazingly detailed pictures of your child’s teeth, tooth roots, and jawbone. Better images translate into better care and better outcomes.

Traditional dental x-rays are tougher on the environment

To develop conventional x-rays, healthcare professionals use a number of chemicals. Unfortunately, many of these chemicals can damage the environment. Developing digital x-rays does not require the use of these chemicals to create detailed images. This means digital dental x-rays will help protect the future of the earth for your children and grandchildren.

Digital dental x-rays provide fast results

Old-fashioned x-rays take 10 minutes or longer, depending on the number of dental x-rays your child needs and how many different angles the dentist needs to look at the tooth or jawbone. Digital dental x-rays, on the other hand, take only seconds. While this may not seem like much of a difference, a few minutes can feel like an eternity for a child. 

Digital dental x-rays can capture multiple images

Dentists can record multiple images from different angles to gain a good understanding of what’s going on with a patient’s oral health. While both traditional and digital dental x-rays can take several images, each image taken exposes patients to radiation. Because they emit significantly less ionizing radiation, digital dental x-rays can capture multiple images with less radiation exposure compared with traditional dental x-rays.

Are x-rays safe?

All x-rays emit some ionizing radiation, which may increase cancer risk. However, the amount of radiation a patient gets from a full set of dental x-rays is about the same as they would absorb from TVs, smart phones, computers, some types of building materials, and even background radiation from the sun, stars, and Earth.

This means x-rays are safe, so long as you do not have them more often than is necessary. In fact, the benefits of having dental x-rays greatly outweigh the risks, in that x-rays help your dentist discover early signs of dental issue before they turn into major problems. 

When it comes to radiation exposure, digital x-rays are safer than the old-fashioned kind. Digital x-rays reduce exposure to radiation up to 80 percent, compared to traditional x-rays. 

Is there a pediatric dentist near me that uses digital x-rays?

Yes, there is! Digital dental x-rays are available in the District of Columbia at SuperKids Pediatric Dentistry. We want all children to receive high-quality dental care, so we offer digital x-rays and other advanced dental technology for your kids. 

For more information on the difference between regular and digital x-rays, consult with SuperKids Pediatric Dentistry. Our pediatric dentist in Potomac MD combines advanced dental technology with a stress-free environment to create DC’s new standard in pediatric dentistry.

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