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What’s So “Special” About Digital Radiography?

Issue: Fall 2009
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Although specialists and those who focus on specialized treatment may only use a portion of their digital radiography tools, the benefits they gain are invaluable. Just think what a full compliment of tools can do for you! Here’s what is special for:

Prosthodontics

“Prosthodontists rely heavily on periapicals as opposed to panoramic X-rays. I (and the patient) used to wait for most of an hour for a single set of film X-rays to be taken, processed, and mounted. Now, X-rays are available immediately on the screen as my assistant takes them.

I am often looking for subtle changes in tooth structure that can be difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish. My digital system provides me with a variety of enhancement tools. I am able to click-and-drag on each image to change its contrast. You can’t do that with film.

Figure 1-See more tooth length with vertical bitewings

One feature that I particularly like with my system is the ability to take vertical bitewing images. So many of our patients have a long crown-to-root ratio, and I see it as a distinct advantage to have the option of vertical, not just horizontal, bitewings (Fig. 1).”

Michael J. Gibbons, DMD
 Scottsdale, AZ
 

Endodontics

“Digital radiography has positively affected the success of treatment in endodontics. Even the way I schedule procedures changed when I implemented digital X-ray. I used to stop a patient’s treatment to wait on film to be developed, move to another patient until a film was taken there—back and forth, all day. Now, my digital images are on the screen instantly. I can keep working on one patient until the procedure is completed.

This is further improved by the “One-Tooth Series” feature of my digital software. I don’t have to touch the computer at all. The system is ready to capture images throughout the entire procedure.

Figure 2-Improve workflow with instant images and "One-Tooth Series"

Digital radiography has a real impact on a patient’s understanding of their treatment. When patients can instantly see their teeth on the screen and watch as I enhance and measure images, they truly understand the reasons for the treatment I deliver (Fig. 2).”

 Sandra Madison, DDS,
MS Asheville, NC

Pedodontics

“Where children and radiation are concerned, I’m convinced that it is our responsibility to minimize their exposure. Since digital radiography requires less radiation than traditional film, it’s a step in the right direction. When you’re working with children, you’re also working with their parents. I’ve found that digital radiography increases my patient and parent education because I can use enlarged images to increase their understanding of disease and treatment (Fig. 3).

Figure 3-Patient and parent education is simplified with digital images

Equally important is our ability to respond rapidly to traumatic injuries in young patients. Quick action often means the difference between saving or losing a tooth that’s been damaged. In cases where the patient and parents can be fearful or agitated, I can quickly take a digital X-ray, and even better, do so with a smoothly rounded sensor that causes no additional discomfort. I can save 10-15 minutes, and start treatment that much sooner.”

Fred S. Margolis, DDS
Buffalo Grove, IL

Periodontics

“In the dental emergency situation, you’re squeezing the patient into an already full schedule. You almost always need at least one periapical X-ray to assess the area. Waiting for conventional film development can add 10 to15 minutes to the appointment. With digital, my assistant shoots the radiograph coincident with my walking into the room, and I obtain a specific diagnosis much more rapidly. I end up with a quality emergency appointment that’s five minutes, instead of twenty minutes. My schedule is intact, and my quality of life in the practice is improved.

Figure 4-Precision and accuracy is available ini 2-D implant software

I also use my digital radiography’s implant software for my implant planning. This tool allows me to precisely calibrate my digital radiographs and select from a comprehensive library of implant models that, once placed on the image, are digitally sized accurately for 2 dimensions (Fig. 4).

Additionally, I can send digital radiographs to a doctor who is seeing the patient at another location the second he calls me, obviously something you can’t do with conventional films.”

Robert C. Fazio, DMD
Norwalk, CT

Cosmetic Dentistry (as a practice focus)

 “I don’t think you can separate digital X-rays from digital camera images in their importance when relating with patients for the simplest of cosmetic procedures to comprehensive reconstruction. Both types are invaluable for patient education and case presentation.

Patients are amazed when I show them full-screen X-ray and camera images. Many have never taken a close look at their smiles, and so few have even seen their posterior teeth. I start with camera images, and then go directly to enlarged X-rays to discuss the internal aspects of their teeth.

Figure 5-Digital X-rays and photos give impact to case presentation

 I keep all my digital images in the same software, making it easy to show them to patients and to follow the history of a patient’s case. I can look at a case today and compare to 5 years ago, or anywhere in between, without rifling through charts (Fig. 5).”

Theodore C. Hadgis, DDS
 Grosse Pointe Woods, MI