Dentists who use digital dental radiograph technology, instead of the traditional photographic film X-rays, report clearer images and a better view of teeth, gums and other structures within the mouth. Dr. Alin Alkass uses a system manufactured by Suni Medical Imaging Inc. that has won awards for its digital imaging system. The system enables Dr. Alkass to expand and improve the treatments and procedures he can offer to his patients.
Extraoral digital X-rays are taken from outside the mouth and do not offer the same details as intraoral X-rays. Instead of being used to diagnose problems with individual teeth, the extraoral X-ray can detect impacted teeth, identify jaw problems (such as temporomandibular joints) and monitor development of jaw and facial bone growth.
Types of Intraoral Digital X-rays
Bitewing X-rays are taken with a film on which the patient bites down. This type of intraoral X-ray shows an image of a tooth from the top (crown) to the supporting bone. Bitewing X-rays can detect decay between teeth and bone density changes that can indicate periodontal disease. This type of digital X-ray can also help the dentist fit dental crowns or restorations and verify the integrity of fillings in teeth.
When Dr. Alkass needs a digital X-ray of the entire tooth from the top to below the root tips, he uses a periapical X-ray. These digital X-rays can show root and surrounding bone structure abnormalities. By analyzing periapical X-rays, dentists can detect bone loss around a tooth, periodontitis and endodontic (“root canal”) lesions.
Types of Extraoral X-rays
Panoramic X-rays use a digital X-ray machine that rotates around the patient’s head to reveal images of the entire mouth and all teeth in one image. This type of X-ray is used to identify impacted wisdom teeth, detect cysts and diagnose jaw disorders and tumors. Panoramic X-rays can assist a dentist in planning dental implant procedures.
Multi-slice computed tomography (MCT) helps a dentist to view structures that might otherwise be difficult to see. It works by showing the mouth in layers or slices while other layers are blurred.
Cephalometric projections are digital X-rays showing the entire head. This enables the dentist to examine teeth in relation to the jaw and profile. This type of X-ray is used by dental specialists, such as orthodontists, concerned about aligning and straightening a person’s teeth.
Sialography digital X-rays are primarily used to diagnose and treat blockages or disorders involving the salivary glands. A dye is injected into the salivary glands to make them stand out more in the X-ray.
Cone beam computerized tomography (CBCT) is used to diagnose and treat facial bone disorders and conditions such as fractures and tumors. The images produced show the interior structures of the patient’s body as three-dimensional images.
Aiding in Diagnosis and Treatment
It takes a considerable investment in equipment and training for a dentist to introduce digital dental X-rays to the practice. But, recognizing the high benefits digital dental X-rays could offer his patients, he decided the investment was worth it. As a tool in the diagnosis and treatment of dental disorders, digital dental X-rays assist both the dentist and the patient.
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