Digital dental radiography is a digital X-ray used by dental professions to better detect, diagnose, treat, and monitor oral conditions and diseases. It is a type of X-ray imaging that uses digital X-ray sensors to replace photographic X-ray film to create enhanced computer images of teeth, gums, and other oral structures and conditions. This provides quicker consultations with patients with more detailed information which enables the quality of care to improve.
Digital dental radiographs can be intraoral which is inside the mouth or extraoral which is outside the mouth. Intraoral X-rays are used to detect cavities, monitor teeth and bone health, and check the status of developing teeth. Extraoral X-rays are used to monitor jaw growth and development, detect impacted teeth, and identify temporomandibular joints (TMJ).
Types of intraoral X-rays:
- Bitewing X-rays show details of the upper and lower teeth in one area of the mouth. They are used to detect decay and changes in bone density caused by gum disease, whether tooth fillings need to be replaced, and how dental crowns or restorations fit.
- Periapical (limited) X-rays show the tooth and the supporting bone in one area of the upper or lower jaw. It is used to show bone loss around the tooth to determine periodontitis, advanced gum disease, and abscesses.
Types of extraoral X-rays:
- Panoramic X-rays show all the teeth in the upper and lower jaw using a machine that rotates around the head to produce one image. It is used for dental implants, to detect impacted wisdom teeth, and diagnose bony tumors and cysts.
- Multi-slice computed tomography (MCT) show a specific layer of the mouth to see things that are difficult to see clearly.
- Cephalometric projections show the entire head to help orthodontists see the teeth in relation to a patient’s jaw and profile to align and straighten teeth.
- Sialography identifies salivary gland problems using a dye for contrast.
- Cone beam computerized tomography (CBCT) shows the teeth as a three-dimensional image which is used to evaluate bone for dental implant placement and difficult tooth extractions.
Digital dental radiography allows consultations with patients and collaborations with other dental specialist to be quicker with more detailed information. The quality of care is improved with a precise diagnosis and faster treatment.