How Dental X-Rays Have Improved Over The Years

| July 20, 2017

Just recently one of our Dental Hygienists, Kay, was asked by a patient how long she had worked in dentistry and what was the biggest change she had seen in the field over the years. She immediately thought of digital X-rays. For those too young to remember, dental x-rays used to be very, very different.

What Were X-Rays Like in the Past?

It’s almost unbelievable to imagine now, but in the “old” days, dental x-rays had to be developed in a darkroom. After taking the x-ray, we’d avoid exposing the film to light, bring it into the darkroom, process the image with chemicals, and then, mount the x-ray on a light box.

As you might imagine, the entire procedure was a time-consuming one, and the developed x-rays took up a lot of space in patients’ files. Additionally, traditional x-rays weren’t particularly eco-friendly, because we had to use highly toxic chemicals to process the film.

Plus, traditional x-rays were very, very small. Whereas x-rays now display at full size, x-rays of the past were about as big as a wallet sized photo! Obviously, this made it more difficult to properly view and assess the state of a patient’s tooth/mouth.

Describing traditional x-rays is one thing, but Kay was kind enough to lend some of her dental x-rays over the years to visually show how drastically things have changed:

Traditional X-Ray: Notice how small they are!

2011 Digital X-Ray: Larger, yet still not as clear

2015 Digital X-Ray: Much clearer and accurate view

How Are Digital X-Rays Different?

Digital x-rays have transformed the dental field, making them far superior over traditional x-rays. By using digital x-rays, we experience the following benefits:

  • No More Harmful Chemicals. Digital x-rays don’t require harmful chemicals for processing, making them more “green” than traditional x-rays.
  • Rapid Processing. Film required a minimum of 10 minutes to process per patient. By contrast, digital x-rays allow us to see images of a patient’s mouth immediately, meaning patients now have shorter appointments.
  • More Space. Our dental office no longer needs to have a darkroom on site. Also, because digital x-rays are stored on a computer, our patients’ files have gotten much smaller!
  • Less Exposure to Radiation. Digital x-rays have vastly cut down on our patients’ exposure to radiation. In fact, digital x-rays use 3-4x less radiation than conventional x-rays.
  • Easy Transfers. Sometimes, dentists need to transfer x-rays to other dental offices or insurance providers. With digital x-rays, we can accomplish these transfers in minutes, rather than days. As a result, patients don’t experience unnecessary delays while waiting for insurance providers to approve or reimburse treatment.
  • Better Image Quality. With digital x-rays, we can zoom, add contrast, make them sharper, view them in 3D, etc. Because the image quality is substantially better than with traditional x-rays, we can more easily view hidden areas of decay, bone infections, gum disease, cysts or abscesses, and any developmental abnormalities.

How Do Patients Benefit from Digital X-Rays?

Because digital x-rays are vastly superior to traditional X-rays, our patients receive even better care. With digital x-rays, we now have the ability to identify dental issues far earlier and more accurately. As a result, dental issues can now be treated at their onset. As you might imagine, this is to our patients’ benefit. When we treat problems early on, treatment is typically less invasive and less expensive. Our patients seem to like that!

At Grandview Dental Care, we are proud of the advances made in the dental industry and the superior care we are able to provide to our patients as a result. Find out more about our dental technologies and what makes us the preferred dentist in Columbus!