Traditional x-rays – the ones that you probably had when you were younger, and the ones that you see on TV – used film in order to take the ‘photographs’ of our insides. Now there is a new modern technology called digital x-rays, which do not need to take photographs and so can be looked at by your dentist only moments after it has been taken. Another great benefit of digital x-rays is that they use around 85% less radiation. As x-rays are a critical tool for diagnosis, digital x-rays are being used more and more by dentists in order to see underneath the surface, and check whether there are any problems that cannot be seen by the naked eye.
Some dental problems do not cause pain until they are quite far along, which means that in many cases, digital x-rays are the first way that a dentist can detect bone loss, tumors, decay, gum problems, abscesses, cysts, and other developmental issues. As these can now be detected much earlier in their development, the dentist can therefore treat them more easily – and with much less pain and financial cost.
Of course, you cannot completely avoid absolutely all radiation exposure – in many ways, it is part of everyday life. On the other hand, digital x-rays are so far reduced when it comes to traditional x-rays and the amount of radiation they create, and even then, dentists will take precautions to protect the patient during the x-ray. You do not automatically need to have a digital x-ray; your dentist will decide that based on your previous history, and any problems that they have spotted in your symptoms or lifestyle. In most cases, a manual exam will tell the dentist whether or not it would be worth the minute amount of radiation to get a better view and use a digital x-ray.