Intraoral Radiography Systems Boost Accuracy, Safety and Patient Comfort

By Rebecca Stone January 9, 2019

A recent report pegged the value of the global dental imaging system market at about $2388.8 million (United States) in 2017, with revenue expected to jump to roughly $4297.3 million by the end of 2024. On the basis of product type, the intraoral radiography system segment is predicted to grow at the fastest rate over this period. 1Global Dental Imaging System Market Set for Rapid Growth, To Reach Around USD 4,297.3 Million by 2024. Available at: Accessed November 19, 2018. Dental practitioners need only to decide which onramp onto the digital highway their practice is best suited to take.

Digital intraoral radiography can be used to snap high-resolution periapical, full-mouth, bitewing and occlusal X-ray images in one of two ways.

Direct or Indirect?

Direct intraoral radiography employs solid-state charge-couple device (CCD) or newer complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) sensors that enable images to be directly brought up on a monitor. The advantage of this method is speed, as the images hit the screen immediately. The main disadvantages are that the sensors are bulky and can be uncomfortable for patients. They are also rather expensive, meaning they will probably need to be shared among operatories.2Cederberg RA. Intraoral Digital Radiography: Elements of Effective Imaging. Available at: Accessed November 19, 2018.,3Stone R. Show and Tell. Mentor. 2015;6(5):14–16,18,20.

Indirect intraoral radiography involves the use of photostimulable phosphor plates (PSP). These are used to create images that must first be scanned before they can be shown on the monitor, though this extra step takes just seconds. The thin, flexible PSPs are more comfortable for patients, and, although they may need to be replaced occasionally due to scratching, they are also less expensive than sensors. This allows multiple plates to be distributed around the office.4Cederberg RA. Intraoral Digital Radiography: Elements of Effective Imaging. Available at: Accessed November 19, 2018.,5Stone R. Show and Tell. Mentor. 2015;6(5):14–16,18,20.

Multiple Benefits

Compared to film, digital intraoral radiography offers tons of benefits. It delivers better accuracy, takes up less space, is environmentally friendly, generates digital files for easy archiving and sharing; is more cost-efficient, is faster, and enhances chairside patient education and treatment acceptance.

But perhaps most important is that digital methods expose patients to less ionizing radiation than film-based radiography.6Cederberg RA. Intraoral Digital Radiography: Elements of Effective Imaging. Available at: Accessed November 19, 2018., In fact, many contemporary X-ray units are designed to minimize radiation levels while delivering high-quality images.

Among the newest innovations on the intraoral X-ray scene are handheld units that allow the utmost in cordless portability. Thanks to design improvements and lead-impregnated acrylic shields, the operator is fully protected from direct and indirect radiation exposure. No need to run out of the room for each image capture.

Adjunctive Aids

Anytime X-rays are being taken, of course, patients must be protected with lead aprons. Positioning systems can also be helpful in ensuring the best radiographic outcomes. And, while it might not be the first thing that comes to mind in a discussion about intraoral radiography, user-friendly isolation systems, such as Isolite, can provide an immense benefit when it comes to picture snapping in the midst of treatments such as root canal therapy. In the course of such a procedure, it’s not uncommon for several radiographs to be taken.7Basrani B. Pre-operative Radiograph. Available at: Accessed November 19, 2018.

There is no doubt that digital intraoral radiography has become accepted practice and will likely, in time, completely eclipse conventional methods.