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The Digital X-ray Difference


X-ray. Just the word tends to have multiple perceptions by the American public. What most do not realize is that there are several different kinds of x-rays, ranging from nature (the sun) to airport radiation to medical x-rays, which are all different from dental x-rays. This article will help clarify the differences between traditional and digital dental x-rays.

Dental x-rays (traditional and digital) were created to look beyond the surface of teeth and gums. Allowing for a clearer perspective than what can be examined by the naked eye. Traditional dental x-rays expose patients to 3-5 times more radiation than digital imaging. Traditional dental x-rays rely on film processing. This takes much more time and subjects the clarity of the x-ray to human processing error. In search of better diagnostic x-ray methods, researchers developed digital x-rays.


The development of digital x-rays represented a quantum leap in dental diagnostic and treatment tools. There are many ways in which digital x-rays are superior to traditional x-rays. These are the major differences to be highlighted:

Less Radiation

Any x-ray requires radiation to obtain. The patient exposure to radiation levels used in obtaining digital x-rays are significantly less, up to 80% lower to be more precise.

Greater Comfort

Traditional x-rays have sharp edges that sometimes cut into or pinch patients’ gums and produce quite a bit of discomfort. Digital x-ray sensors are designed with smooth, rounded edges that provide a more pleasant, patient-friendly approach to taking images.

Increased Quality

Beyond being safer and more comfortable, digital x-rays give greater detail than their traditional counterparts. This is not only because of today’s excellent pixel detail but also because of the ease to resize and focus without distortion of the image. These larger images make easier to see and understand a decay spot or other dental/tooth abnormality.

Decreased Time

While the total time to take and view a digital image is typically under 3 seconds, in less than 2 minutes a completed set of x-rays are taken. When compared with the 15-20 minutes that patients used to have to wait for traditional x-rays . It is easy to see the benefits to both the patients and the dentist.

Expanded Treatment Tools

The resizing and annotation features that the digital x-rays allow often amaze patients. There are also many other diagnostic and treatment tools that these x-rays provide that dentists just never had with traditional x-rays. These new tools are: accurate measuring tools, colorization, ease of transfer via email, and illustration tools. These all allow dental professionals easier communications with patients, helping them truly see and understand more regarding their dental health.


I hope this review of the differences between digital x-rays and traditional x-rays helps you better understand the valuable “digital x-ray difference!” Digital x-rays are a must in top-level treatment delivery in today’s modern dental office. Be sure to share this with your friends…you never know who might be needing YOUR help.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Jay Jorgensen, DDS