Digital Dental Radiography Explained


At Dentaservice, we provide various dental treatments such as root canal, teeth whitening and orthodontics amongst others. These services are most often accompanied by dental radiography – x-rays – to aid with diagnosis and treatment decisions. It is a common occurrence for any of us to be susceptible to dental problems over our lifetime. In the past, misdiagnosis for dental treatments was more common due to a lack of necessary equipment and dental radiography techniques that are present today.

Dental radiography, or simply dental x-rays, has become an important part of dental treatments. They provide clarity of the problem at hand or which specific treatment will be needed. Moreso, different types of dental radiograph – Intraoral & Extraoral – allow us to identify the cause of dental problems more accurately than ever before. 

Digital dental radiographs are commonly used by professionals nowadays because they detect, treat and help us to monitor oral conditions and diseases in a more sophisticated manner.

Digital radiography has replaced traditional photographic x-rays. The difference between digital radiographic x-rays is they use digital x-ray sensors for imaging and provide enhanced computer images of gums, teeth and other oral conditions and structures.  

Digital dental x-rays can be acquired through three different methods:

  • Direct method – uses an electric sensor placed in the mouth for recording images.
  • Indirect method – uses an x-ray film scanner to scan and show traditional x-rays as digital images.
  • Semi-indirect method – it combines sensor and scanner and converts dental x-rays into digital film. 

Types and Uses of Dental Radiography

As the name suggests, intraoral is a type of x-ray taken inside the mouth and extraoral is a type of x-ray taken outside the mouth.

Intraoral x-rays are the most common dental x-rays as they give more clear details, detect cavities, monitor teeth & bone health and also check the status of growing teeth. On the other hand, extraoral x-rays don’t provide as much detail as intraoral as they don’t identify individual tooth problems. However, they detect impacted teeth, monitor growth and developments in jaw, and find potential problems between teeth, the jaw, temporomandibular joints (TMJ) and other facial bones. 

Types of Intraoral X-rays

Bite-wing X-rays – These x-rays are taken with patients biting down on film. They show details of both the upper and lower areas of the mouth. Bite-wing x-rays are beneficial as they show the tooth from its crown to the level of the supporting bone. Bite-wing x-rays also detect decay between teeth and potential changes in bone density caused by gum disease, in order to determine the fit of dental crowns or restorations and marginal integrity of tooth fillings. 

Periapical X-rays – Similar to bite-wing x-rays, but instead periapical x-rays highlight and focus only on one or two teeth at a time. They are taken to evaluate the whole tooth from the crown to the supporting bone in one area in either the upper or lower jaw.

Types of Extraoral X-rays

Panoramic X-rays – This type of x-ray shows the entire mouth on a single x-ray. It is performed by a special machine that rotates around the head. These x-rays are used to detect impacted wisdom teeth and other jaw problems and to diagnose bone tumours and cysts.

Multi-slice computed tomography (MCT) – This x-ray is focused on a particular layer (slice) of the mouth while blurring all other layers. This is done to examine structures that are difficult to see clearly otherwise.

Cephalometric projections – This x-ray is taken of the entire side of the head to look at the teeth in relation to the jaw and profile of the patient. Orthodontists who specialise in aligning and straightening teeth use this x-ray to develop their treatments.

If you wish to have your teeth examined, consider contacting Dentaservice for your exceptional Orthodontic services. From here, we will guide you toward the most suitable x-ray for you and follow with an effective treatment. 

Cone-beam computerized tomography (CBCT) – This x-ray provides three-dimensional images. It is often performed at a hospital or an imaging centre but is greatly used in dental clinics. It helps in identifying facial bone problems such as tumours or fractures and is useful for dental implant selection and placement.

Benefits of Digital Dental Radiography 

  • It helps in early detection of dental problems and the equivalent treatment which saves patients money, time and pain. 
  • Digital radiographs are easy to access and can be viewed instantly anywhere and on any computer. The biggest advantage of digitalised x-rays is that image quality can be manipulated by enhancing the contrast and when transferred, there is no quality loss. 
  • Digital radiography can reach out to all parts of the mouth, even the small hidden areas of decay in teeth or the ones in existing fillings, bone infections, gum diseases, cysts or abscesses, developmental abnormalities and tumours that can’t be seen by visual dental examination.
  • It does not eliminate any chemical processes or leave us with any hazardous waste, thereby shifting towards greener eco-friendly practices and the environment. 
  • X-rays can be stored easily in a patient’s record on the computer and even sent to insurance companies by referring to dentists and making the process easy and saving time. 

There are various treatments today that require dental radiography. It is always recommended in order to be certain of the problem before commencing any treatment. Make an appointment with us at if you are experiencing dental pain or it’s time to get your regular check-up.