During the journey through my 40-year career as a hygienist, I have cleaned a lot of teeth, talked to a lot of patients, and of course, taken a lot of X-rays. A lot of things have changed over the years, and one of the most important changes happened in radiography. I have used film from the beginning except for the last two years when the office switched to DEXIS®. Before then, my team members and I were generally satisfied with film, and we wondered why we needed digital. Now, we all say we would never want to practice without it—it’s that significant in our practice.
When I first heard that we were switching from film to digital, I thought to myself, “Oh boy, one more thing to learn” and “Will this really improve our lives here?” But, as a dental professional, I knew that I needed to be open to new things.
At our DEXIS demonstration, I was relieved to see that it utilized Rinn-like devices. After using paralleling devices all my life, at least that was “familiar.” When our instructor, Jeanne, came out, she actually had us all using the software and placing the sensor from the start; that gave us the push we needed. We were impressed with how clear the images were. We liked the options to make the images larger, lighter, darker, as well as all the other helpful enhancement tools in the imaging software—this was another plus for digital.
Patients love that they can see their images right away and that I can show them what’s happening inside of their mouths.
I was also pleasantly surprised at how easy the images are to capture. The next workday after training, I had an FMX scheduled…my first DEXIS series. I was on my own. I took a deep breath and dived in. I completed that first series in no time at all, and the images, both angulation and clarity, turned out great. When the doctor came in, he admired the images that I took, and that’s what I wanted to hear! In that instance, I became a believer in digital X-ray!
So what do I see as the benefits now? When I am taking images, I know immediately if I have captured all I need to see. I know with the first image if I have to switch from horizontal to vertical views. As I am scaling, I check the image to find exactly where that calculus is hiding, whereas with our old traditional film, the X-ray was never back from the processor until I was already done with the prophy.
Patients love that they can see their images right away and that I can show them what’s happening inside of their mouths. On top of all this, they receive significantly less radiation, and of course, they are very happy to hear that. One more thing…I definitely do not miss cleaning the processor.
As for the system we chose, I am glad we went with DEXIS because it’s just the one size sensor. We liked that we didn’t have to purchase sensors in different sizes. Its shape, especially the “cut,” rounded corners, makes it easy to place and comfortable for patients. The learning curve from film to digital was nearly non-existent. The process, using the sensor and working with the software, became second nature in very little time. You don’t have to be a computer genius to work with the software. I’m certainly not, and neither are my coworkers, but we all embraced this technology rather quickly.
So, that’s my story. And now some advice on digital X-ray for all film-based clinicians: I say, “Leap into it! You’re going to love it.” It is a total win-win situation for the patients and for the office. Once you start off on your new road to digital, you will never look back.