Traditional Dental X-Rays vs Digital X-Rays: Is One Better?

Traditional X-Rays vs Digital X-RaysX-rays have been an essential part of dentistry for decades. Taking these images allows dentists to accurately diagnose and treat problems.

The mid 1980’s saw the introduction of digital dental x-rays on the clinical scene. Nearly all dental practices today rely on digital imaging to take their patients’ x-rays.

So now you’re wondering: how do traditional dental x-rays vs digital x-rays compare?

Classic Dental X-Rays

Traditional dental x-rays are taken with film much like early cameras.

The film is placed in the mouth just behind whatever tooth or bone the dentist wants to get a picture of. A radiation-generating “camera” projects an invisible beam right at the film. The particles interact with molecules in the film to produce a chemical change, creating an image.

It takes several minutes of processing in a darkroom environment before the picture starts to show up on the film. Developing the images requires the use of chemicals which can be harmful to the environment and hard to dispose of.

Digital Dental X-Rays

Digital x-rays use a similar machine for generating the radiation. But instead of film, x-ray sensors pick up the image. The sensor is often connected by a wire to a computer. When the sensor receives the image, it immediately zips off to the computer.

Comparing Traditional Dental X-Rays vs Digital X-Rays

What’s the difference between using film and a digital sensor?

Digital x-ray imaging has a few pros and cons.

First, a few of the benefits of digital over traditional.

Digital x-rays don’t require the use of chemicals to process the images. Additionally, although initially expensive, the sensors add up to significant savings and reduced waste since they can be reused. Going digital is environmentally-friendly.

Digital images can be viewed instantly. There’s no waiting for film to develop. This saves valuable time for both our patients and staff.

Digital technology allows for sharper imaging and image enhancement afterwards with computer software, for more accurate case diagnosis.

Dentists and patients love the fact that digital copies of x-rays can be shared in an instant. You can email them easily, if you want to send your x-rays to another office.

Most importantly, the digital sensors don’t require as much radiation as dental film to create an image. You get less radiation exposure when you have digital x-rays.

There are a couple downsides to going digital:

  • Sensors can’t be sterilized so they need to be cleaned and protected with special covers
  • Some patients feel the digital sensor is bulkier than traditional film and harder to hold in the mouth

Why Digital X-Rays Are Important

The American Dental Association (ADA) states that there are some diseases and conditions which cannot be detected without the help of x-rays. Decay, tumors, bone loss, and abscess are some of the things that you can find and treat early on thanks to digital x-rays.

Clearly, the benefits of x-rays far outweigh any risks.

Safety measures like going digital and using protective lead aprons make routine x-rays as harmless as possible. Having a gentle dentist in Ventura helps, too.

To learn more about the latest in dental x-ray technology, contact Dr. David Satnick DMD.


Do you have questions about dental x-rays or your oral health?

Schedule an appointment with Ventura dentist Dr. David Satnick, DDS, or for more information call 805.639.3050 now!

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