Selecting the best intraoral dental digital X-ray sensor system for your practice is a process that takes knowledge of the product and a good understanding of factors beyond the product features. This is a major investment, and careful consideration of your alternatives is prudent. Unlike many other categories of equipment products in your office, where a purchasing mistake can be easily resolved by simply replacing it with another model or brand, the direct digital X-ray system is part of a complete and complex system that needs to work well together.
Choosing the right product should involve your distributor and the manufacturer of the product, but also your information technology company who has or will supply your computers, network system and software. Changing to another manufacture’s product if the product does not meet your expectations can be complicated and expensive. Do your research and you will be very happy with your choice for years to come.
Before considering what digital intraoral x-ray system to purchase for your practice, it is important to understand how much more powerful every digital system is over traditional film x-rays.
Less Radiation – Perhaps one of the most important features of digital poratble dental x-rays machine is the sensors themselves require less radiation from the x-ray generator to expose the image. Compared to dental film, you can expect to need up to 90% less radiation depending on your exposure settings.
Exposure – Digital x-rays provide instant exposure. You do not have to mess around with chemicals, and you don’t have to spend time waiting for—or maintaining—the developer. Plus, there is no wasted time mounting the x-rays into holders.
Storage – Film x-rays must be stored in a patient’s chart, and this takes up physical space. Additionally, they degrade as time goes on. With digital x-rays, you have nearly unlimited storage on a hard drive. Because they are digital files, the x-rays themselves will never yellow or degrade over time.
Access – Because the x-rays are stored as files on a computer, you can have multiple people accessing the same image at one time. For example, while an assistant is capturing the x-rays in the operatory, the dentist could be reviewing the images from another room.
While many practices have made the leap to digital X-rays over the past decade, over 50% are still not using digital systems. With government regulations looming, and many referring offices using digital X-rays, many practices will find that it is prudent to get a digital X-ray system sooner rather than later.
1. Image quality. It is a mistake to assume that just because a sensor has a high resolution, that translates into better image quality. There are many factors that can affect image quality. In my experience, the image management software has a far greater effect on image quality than the sensor itself. Other factors would include the X-ray heads, the exposure times, the kvp, USB cables, and a dozen other factors.
3. Infrastructure. I alluded to this in both of the points above. For offices that are going digital, the costs for items to support the sensors are usually much higher than the sensors themselves! You'll need to make sure that you have a server with enough capacity for the larger image files.
Digital X-rays are a fantastic technology, and almost every office will benefit from them. Offices should consider working with an objective technology consultant to ensure that they are prepared for all of the decisions that need to be made before making the investment in digital radiography.