Imaging technology provides a more clear and comprehensive view of teeth, tissue, nerves and bone inside the mouth. This is an essential tool for dental practitioners as just an oral examination will not be enough to get a complete observation of a patient’s dental health. Imaging can uncover conditions that are obstructed from eyesight, such as tooth decay, impacted teeth, bone loss or growths like abscesses, cysts and tumours.
Images can be stored and compared over time to track improvements or changes in potentially adverse areas. Technological advancements can assist in a more accurate diagnosis and patient understanding, because they can be shown what the dentist is seeing and how important the treatment would be.
Before digital imaging, dental practices would use film-based radiography that required a dark room to process images. The more modern methods save time, space and resources. The equipment available for dental digital imaging include:
This method is a type of X-ray imaging that uses digital X-ray sensors to replace traditional photographic X-ray film, producing enhanced computer images of teeth, gums and oral structures. Traditional X-rays can also be viewed as digital images by using an X-ray film scanner.
Intraoral X-rays provide excellent detail and are used to detect cavities, check the status of developing teeth and monitor mouth health. Extraoral X-rays are used to detect impacted teeth, monitor jaw growth and development, and identify potential problems between teeth, jaws and facial bones.
The standard intraoral x-ray device for most dental practices is the wall-mounted, scissor-arm system like the Belmont 097 Belray. Although, the portable and hand-held machines such as the Vatech EzRay Air are gaining popularity and there are advantages to both types.
Bitewing X-rays are used to detect changes in bone density caused by gum disease, decay between teeth, the fit of dental crowns or restorations, and the marginal integrity of tooth fillings.
Periapical X-rays show bone loss around each tooth and are used to detect root structure and surrounding bone structure abnormalities.
Occlusal X-rays reveal the entire arch of teeth and show full tooth development and placement.
Wall-mounted X-ray systems
When using a conventional wall-mounted unit the operator would leave the room or stand behind a shielded wall during exposure. Even though the hand-held devices have some very attractive benefits, these fixed units are still popular due to their ease of use, the complete radiation protection and the security of it being attached to a wall, stowed away neatly and permanently connected to power. If a practice has more than one surgery, there might need to be a wall-mounted unit in each one.
Hand-held X-ray devices
The portability and flexibility of these devices are their main benefit and the patient may feel less intimidated about x-rays due to the operator staying in the room during exposure. This can also improve efficiency, workflow and ultimately save time. Also, one unit can serve multiple surgeries rather than a fixed unit in each one.
There are many types of extraoral x-rays, their main focus is to detect dental problems in the jaw and skull. They may not provide the detail found with intraoral x-rays, but are integral for identifying issues between the teeth, jaws and temporomandibular joint or other bones around the face.
Types of Extraoral X-ray:
This is a radiographic technique where images are composed of pixels with each value represented by a level on the grey scale, giving a monochromatic picture of the patients’ mouth. 2D or 3D images can be produced, stored or printed and are viewed on screen with several other advantages compared to traditional processes. The benefits of using this system are:
With digital imaging, X-ray machines are still used and require special training for staff. They will also need to be periodically serviced and maintained. Our EclipseCare service plan can ensure that you are CQC compliant, and extend the working life of your equipment.
These radiographs produce exceptional images for most dental needs by providing inspection into the internal structure of teeth and supporting bone. The 2D imaging system we supply is the Vatech PaX-i, which provides the most precise and high-quality panoramic image, improving diagnostic accuracy and increased treatment planning.
In certain cases, 3D imaging might be more appropriate. Computed Tomography (CT) scanners use a narrow fan-shaped beam with multiple exposures around the head to show the internal structures. The 3D image is constructed from a series of 2D images by a cone beam algorithm in the computer software. This system is called Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) and can assist in detecting cysts, tumours, infections, maxillofacial injuries and treatment planning for implants and impacted teeth. Other specialist dental applications include orthodontics, cephalometric analysis and periodontics. Our 3D imaging systems from Vatech provide superior images for panoramic and cephalometric diagnosis:
These are essentially small, handheld cameras which produce images not associated with X-rays. They are a valuable tool for patient education and quick diagnosis. Equipped with an easy capture button to take digital images with wireless or cabled transmission to a screen and a rotatable head to reach anywhere in the oral cavity.
They are ideal to give the patient a tour of their mouth and print images for filing. Treatments can be more thoroughly discussed and explained, this makes patients more comfortable with their understanding of the procedures. The Intraoral cameras we supply are:
We can inspect any of your X-ray equipment including hand-held devices, usually taking an hour per machine and we recommend an annual service on all of these. During the service our engineer will check the stability, wear and tear, exposure control, tube-head and fittings. Radiation output and consistency is checked, and documents / paperwork completed.
Call our service team on 01322 421156 or at email@example.com to discuss any service, maintenance or repair needs for your imaging equipment. Take a look at this related article - Do I need to have my equipment serviced?