How Digital Radiography Differs from Conventional Radiography

Today, most dental offices use digital radiography in place of traditional radiography to take x-rays of patients. X-rays give dental professionals valuable information about the state of a patient’s oral health, providing a closer look at the gums, mouth and teeth to identify issues such as cavities, gum and tooth decay, or impacted teeth. If you’re pursuing a career as a dental assistant, it’s likely that your responsibilities will involve operating digital imaging equipment. At the Canadian Academy of Dental Hygiene, students who successfully complete the Intra-Oral Dental Assisting Program will be trained in utilizing digital radiography equipment, preparing them to work within any modern dental office. 

Below, take a closer look at what digital radiography entails, how it differs from conventional radiography, and the benefits of utilizing this technology for patients’ oral health.

Digital Radiography Differs from Conventional Radiography in a Few Ways

Digital radiography, which was developed almost a century after traditional radiography, differs from conventional technology in a few ways. Dentists and doctors began using traditional radiography, or x-rays, in the 1900s. With this type of radiography, radiation interacts with the human body to produce images on film. While conventional radiography relies on radiation, digital radiography operates through the use of computer technology, relying on both electric sensors and short snippets of radiation to produce an image that can be viewed on a computer screen. As an intra-oral dental assistant, you’ll use this technology to update patients’ oral health records and identify any problems.

Digital radiography uses computer technology combined with radiation to produce a digital image

Digital Radiography Develops Quickly

As a future dental assistant, one thing to note about digital radiography is how quickly it develops in comparison to conventional radiology. Not only is developing digital x-rays cheaper than the cost of film, but printing x-rays onto film takes time, leading to delays in delivering the results to patients and identifying solutions. When using digital radiography, an image is produced as soon as the electronic sensors are placed on the area in question. This means that images can be viewed on the computer screen in real time, boosting efficiency. 

As an Intra-Oral Dental Assistant, Using Digital Radiography Leads to Better Images

As professionals in dental assistant careers can attest to, utilizing digital radiography often leads to more accurate results than when conventional methods are used. This is due to the fact that digital x-rays are higher resolution, have the ability to reach a wider range of angles within a patient’s mouth, and can pick up a much greater variety of shades of colour. Thanks to these advantages, digital radiography produces a clearer view of any problems with a patients’ oral health, helping dentists to catch issues before they progress further.

Patients May Prefer Digital X-Rays

In addition to being more efficient and more accurate, patients also generally have a better experience when undergoing digital radiography. During a conventional x-ray, patients must wear lead-protective gear, while remaining in one position for prolonged periods of time. Conventional radiography also requires patients to bite down and hold their bite while scanning occurs, which can be uncomfortable. As only a sensor is utilized to obtain an image in digital radiography, it’s often a much more pleasant experience for patients, especially if they are prone to anxiety while at the dentist.

As an intra-oral dental assistant, you’ll notice that patients often prefer the digital x-ray process

Digital Radiography Is Safer

Digital radiography is much safer than traditional radiography, due to the fact that both patients and dental professionals are exposed to much less radiation in the process of obtaining images. Digital radiography only uses bursts of radiation, as opposed to the prolonged radiation which occurs during traditional x-rays. During your career as a dental assistant, your ability to operate digital radiography technology will help you to improve accuracy and deliver more quality services to patients, while keeping them safe.

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