Digital Dental X-Rays VS Traditional Dental X-Rays

The history of radiology – a process also known as X-ray was dated back to the late 19th century when Wilhelm Rōntgen, a German physicist first developed it. After this initial achievement made by Rōntgen, X-ray later found its place virtually in all areas of medical fields while the dental industry is benefiting immensely from this amazing technology. This is a Traditional method of X-ray that uses film radiography to examine the level of damage done to your teeth, gums, and mouth, and to determine the type of treatment needed to fix them. It is a traditional way of taking images of your teeth which is rapidly giving way to a more advanced and accurate digital X-ray technology.

With regular discoveries and developments in dentistry, dentists are adopting the new technology to ensure that they provide the most effective and fast treatments and procedures. Your dentist understands the importance of getting the actual images of a decayed tooth by carrying out an x-ray before any treatment can be done. For many decades, a film-based system was used to capture the image of oral formation but with the arrival of new technologies, digital radiographic imaging is widely adopted and the results have been impressive so far.

Though some dentists still use Traditional dental radiography as their methods of capturing the image of teeth because of certain factors, many of them are taking the advantages of the opportunities provided by the new technology. Actually, you might not be bothered whether your dentist uses a Traditional or digital x-ray; so far he or she will perform an excellent job. But there are many things you need to know about the two types of radiographs.

Traditional Dental X-Rays

As earlier mentioned, Traditional dental radiography has been around since the 19th century and it involves an X-ray machine and a film that receive the images. The machine is included with an anode and cathode tube and uses power to function. The main characteristic of this machine is to send the captured image to the film through radiation. However, the effectiveness of Traditional X-ray in the dental industry has become a subject of debate over the recent times.

Benefits of Traditional Dental X-Rays

  • This is a standard form of capturing the image of your teeth and mouth, so it requires no extra training to operate the X-ray machine.
  • Images captured with an X-ray machine cannot be changed which could possibly avoid fraudulent or legal issues.
  • It offers high-quality photo images while most dentists are still using it to examine the dental problems of their patients effectively.
  • The film sensors used in X-ray machine are good resistants to heat sterilization


  • It takes so much time to process and develop a film because it needs separate equipment.
  • You will need a dark room equipped with a lighting and specific temperature which can lead to faulty results.
  • Because it involves several techniques before the process is completed, Traditional radiography can experience problems along the way, such as blunt or blurred images, dark lines, fog or spots.

Digital Dental X-Rays

Every dentist wants to provide effective and quality dental services to his or her patients and adopting a digital form of X-ray will be an excellent idea to start with. This method of taking images of the teeth, gums, and mouth involve computer-based techniques to take clear and accurate pictures directly without using a film. It uses a similar machine like the traditional dental X-ray to generate radiation, but the sensors connected to a computer capture the images instead of a film. Apart from following in the trend of modern technology, dentists are switching to this method because of some of the benefits outlined below.

Benefits of Digital Dental X-Rays

  • There is no need for the use of chemicals to process the images, unlike Traditional dental X-ray system.
  • It saves time because your dentist can view the images instantly and know exactly where the problems are.
  • It is faster because there is no need to wait for the film to develop which is good for both the patient and the dentist to save valuable time in the dental lab.
  • By using image enhancement software, Images captured using digital technology comes out clear and sharp.
  • The accuracy is quite impressive and it is friendly to the environment.
  • It requires less radiation to produce high-quality images.
  • Your dentist will be able to have the archives of your dental x-rays stored on a computer.
  • It produces bigger pictures which will permit your dentist to detect all the dental problems.
  • Though digital X-ray is expensive to acquire compared with Traditional radiography, you’ll later find it to save a lot of money in the long run.
  • It allows the images to be transferred electronically to other persons such as a consultant or a referred dentist.


  • Depending on the type of system you want to purchase or a number of detectors to use, digital X-ray system might be expensive to acquire and maintained by some dentists.
  • You may need to go for training before you can effectively use digital radiography.
  • It is not a standardized form of dental X-ray.

Final Thought

Dental X-ray is an important process usually used by your dentist to determine the best treatment to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy. With this technique, he or she will be able to detect dental problems that are not easily visible, such as decay, bone loss, and cavity. It is also an essential process when considering a dental restoration procedure like implant and root canal treatment.

As the world is changing drastically and moving in the trend of new technology, the dental industry is also catching up rapidly with the fast pace at which technology is moving. Many dentists are now switching from Traditional dental X-rays to a more advanced and effective digital radiography. Though the cost of acquiring the latter and the competency in operating the system could be a factor why some dentists are yet to go digital, but it is worth having it in a plan.

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