Q: How does using a digital X-ray sensor reduce radiation exposure to patients?
A: First, the digital X-ray sensor is catching a minimal amount of radiation and electronically processing them to make an excellent image. Digital sensors don’t need to be hammered with radiation like film in order to capture a clear image. The dial that controls X-ray radiation can be simply dialed back ½ way as soon as an office begins using a leading digital sensor.
Second, because digital X-rays show up instantly on the computer screen, there is no risk of shooting an entire set of X-rays before realizing that some slight modification to film or patient position is necessary. In other words, retakes are very rare.
Third, because digital X-rays can be sent between doctors, there is no reason for additional radiation exposures during different consultations.
Q: How does the X-ray image help with diagnosis and patient education?
A: Traditional X-rays were 1.5 inches tall and 1 inch wide. Though they could display a crisp image, the image was too small and also could not be enlarged, enhanced or improved. Digital X-ray images are as large as a computer monitor and can be adjusted and drawn on with digital pens in infinite ways to help dentists and patients understand what the true dental condition is.
Q: What is the recommended X-ray frequency for patients?
A: X-rays should be taken based on a patient’s risk for decay. Of course, that varies. We recommend a comprehensive set of X-rays for new patients and thereafter, check-up X-rays every 12 months and new comprehensive series of X-rays every five years.
The American Dental Association’s 2012 recommendations for adults are:
- New Patients: full set of X-rays
- Recare Patients (patients with hygiene appointments): X-rays every 6-18 months
- Recare Patients with no prior decay or change in decay risk: X-rays every 24-36 months.
- Patients with proposed or existing implants, other dental and craniofacial pathoses, restorative/root canal needs, periodontal disease and caries remineralization: Professional judgment call.
Q: How do dental X-rays compare to other sources of radiation?
A: Medical: According to the 2009 National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, dental radiographs account for approximately 2.5 percent of the effective dose received from medical radiographs and fluoroscopies.
[should we insert one of the images found by Google images: “Dental radiation comparison”?]
Q: If dental X-rays are not harmful, then why do you dive out of the room and why am I wearing a lead shield when I’m getting them!?
A: The lead shield is to limit radiation exposure and, specifically, to protect your thyroid gland which is anatomically close to the mouth. We leave the room because our team takes X-rays all day, day after day.
Q: What if I really, really, really don’t want to take X-rays?
A: Dentists with X-rays are like pilots with instruments. But if you don’t want routine x-rays, let’s talk. First, let’s try to understand each other’s awareness and points of view. Then, we’ll take a look at your photographs and/or microscope images and combine that information with a visual examination. If you are one of the lucky ones with no sign of decay, then we can apply the 2012 ADA recommendation of re-evaluation every year. If that is not the case, then let’s repeat our conversation with the additional information from the photos and visual exam. If treatment is required, so will be X-rays. However, if you still do not want x-rays even though decay or dental problems are present, no problem, we will be happy to provide you with photographs, clinical notes and an excellent treatment plan for you to consider.
Q: OK, so how often do you recommend you mother take x-rays?
A: Every year: 4 images showing back teeth, 2 images showing front teeth.
Q: How are Digital X-rays more environmentally friendly than film?
A: Digital xrays do not require a dark room of toxic photo developing chemicals and also do not use packaging, including lead.
Q: Who makes Schick dental X-ray sensors?
A: Sirona, the world’s largest manufacturer and leader of innovative dental technology in dentistry, including CEREC, also makes the Schick digital x-ray sensor.