Digital Dentistry: Why Digital Imaging is Saving Your Smile

If you’re currently over the age of thirty chances are you recall a time before cell phones, when pagers were cool, and the internet was still somewhat of an unknown phenomenon. It’s an incredible transformation between the world we grew up in and the world we live in now. Screen time is now something that needs to be discussed at all pediatric appointments and if you got a new pair of glasses recently, you probably added the blue light protection to avoid the tired eyes that come with constantly trying to filter the light emitting from your phone or laptop. Technology is a double-edged sword. It’s unavoidable and its always changing. But, it’s allowed us to make so much progress, especially in the medical and dental field. Were all about teeth so let’s talk about how dentistry and technology mix.

Do you remember when you used to have x-rays at the dentist? They’d shove that little paper square in your mouth that seemed to have razor blades for corners. Then you would have to wait a good twenty minutes to find out if your pictures turned out, or if you would have to do any retakes. No wonder no one wanted to have x-rays! Not to mention the amount of radiation associated with taking eighteen x-rays to make sure no stone was left unturned during your exam. Thankfully its ALL a thing of the past.

Let’s just think about that as a bad dream, as we wake to the reality of digital imaging and instant exposure. If you haven’t been to the dentist in the last few years (or if your current dentist is old school) you might find this quite unbelievable but, gone are the days of razorblade x-ray film. Now when you sit in the dental chair you will see your pictures pop up on the screen before the technician even gets back in the room. That’s right you will see them ON THE SCREEN!! Our office is a huge proponent of using digital tools. When you make an appointment, you will have only digital imaging and the censor we use in lieu of the old paper films are much more comfortable. The smooth and rounded corners will save you all the discomfort of the old days.

Many of you who may be a little more conscious of the amount of radiation exposure you receive are probably thinking about how much radiation might be needed to expose digital radiographs. The answer is simple…not a lot. We can feel you rolling your eyes, just hear us out. For reference, Radiation is something we are in contact with every day. According to Radiationanswers.org “Radiation can be found in soils, in our air…water, and in us”. The amount of radiation that our patients encounter is significantly less than what it used to be and just for perspective, is closest to the amount of radiation exposure you would get on a flight from LAX to JFK. Except on your last vacation you probably didn’t wear your lead apron. Or maybe you did, and we support that too.

 We believe it is important for our patients to be educated and we always aim to make their care a priority. Typically, we only do x-rays one time a year and we eliminated the full 18 film series typically referred to as a “full mouth series”. The reason for this is because we use another digital imaging technology called a “Cone Beam CT”. This image eliminates the full mouth series because it shows us all the teeth and roots as well as some of the soft tissues in the surrounding areas. With this technology we’re able to check for infections and abnormalities in the soft tissue. Our digital images also prevent a patient from having unnecessary treatment. Dr. Labrum likes to be more conservative when diagnosing fillings and because of the incredible quality of our images he’s able to determine with more certainty the extent of the decay or demineralization that is present. We know as long as decay has not passed through the enamel layer there is a good chance, we can re-mineralize these areas with fluoride. We update x-rays once a year to make sure that there have been no changes to these small soft spots in the enamel. Our patients are the top priority and digital imaging allows us to provide them the best care possible.