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Holistic Dentistry: Digital Dental X-Rays

by Idelle Brand, DDS

Over the last few years, as manufacturers and researchers around the world have taken computerized X-ray detectors out of the lab and into clinical trials, it’s become clear that digital X-ray imaging is indeed revolutionizing diagnostic radiology. In fact, many observers have hailed it as the most significant breakthrough in x-ray imaging in the last 25 years.

A digital X-ray (radiography) system can shoot a picture of your teeth, then within seconds, show it to you on a computer monitor while you are still in the dental chair. You no longer have to sit there for fifteen minutes and wait for X-ray film to develop...and develop.

The on-screen picture will look like an X-ray image but a lot bigger, 400 percent bigger! With one mouse click, your dentist can zoom in on a single tooth, rotate it, sharpen it and colorize it - all to explain your treatment procedure. Want to take that stunning tooth image home with you? Your dentist can print out a color copy just for you.

How It Works

Your dentist places a small, flat sensor in your mouth. The sensor is connected to a computer by a thin wire. Next, an X-ray beam is sent through your teeth and into the sensor, which records the image of your teeth and sends it to the computer. The sensor can then be repositioned to photograph other sections of your teeth.

Why It’s Good

Your dental checkups take less time. Since the digital X-ray system is more sensitive than X-ray film systems, your exposure to X rays is cut as much as 95 percent. The enlarged and color-enhanced images let you see what your dentist sees, so it’s easier for you to understand how your dentist will treat your teeth. There are no photographic chemicals, film, processing or film storage. It is not only safer for you, but also for the environment since there are no chemicals to dispose of. Finally, it’s a blast to watch this system work! Most patients are amazed.

Digital radiography has made a big difference in my practice. My patients are thrilled since they get so little radiation and they love that they can see their teeth on the computer screen in seconds.

How It Could Be Better

Because the sensors are rigid, they may be hard to position and can cause some mouth discomfort, particularly for small children. Digital X-ray equipment is very expensive. And because it is expensive, not all dentists have a digital X-ray system. You may have to do some exploring to find a dentist who has one.

It is well worth the effort to find a dentist with the latest technology. Be an educated consumer. Ask questions before you make that next dental appointment.

Dr. Idelle Brand is the director of The Brand Wllness Center, an integrative dental practice in midtown Manhattan. She is a health educator and lecturer on Enlightened DentistryTM, a new paradigm of holistic dental care that encompasses healing of the body, mind and spirit. She can be contacted at 212 947-0073 or through her website www.TheBrandWellnessCenter.com

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