More dentists are using digital radiography, also known as digital X-rays, instead of traditional X-rays. Why? Unlike traditional X-rays, digital radiography uses up to 90 percent less radiation and produces instant images of your teeth that both you and your dentist can view. Sirona President Michael Augins gives details on this groundbreaking dental technology.
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Fred Joyal: I'm here today with Michael Augins and we're talking about digital radiography as opposed to traditional film X-rays that are done in the dental office. Michael, what's so great about digital radiography?
Michael Augins: Well, there are number of advantages of digital radiography. First of all, the digital radiography allows the dentist to manipulate the images and they can really see more of the tooth structure and the contrast between different areas of the tooth than they could in traditional film-based radiography. It's much faster and it's much lower radiation that's required as well. And so those three benefits really make it a technology that's being rapidly adopted in today's dental practices.
Fred Joyal: So, it's better imagery. Tell me how it works. I know they - normally on an X-ray they stick a piece of film in your mouth and they take it and then they develop it and the dentist looks on it on his little slide chart. What happens in digital radiography?
Michael Augins: In digital radiography, a dentist will insert into the patient's mouth a sensor that's similar in size and shape to the film and that sensor is able to capture and be activated by the X-ray radiation that's being emitted by the generator. And so it captures that data and it requires much less radiation to be able to really take a sharp picture of the patient's tooth.
Fred Joyal: So, it's less radiation and better information with this device.
Michael Augins: Exactly, exactly.
Fred Joyal: So, now do a lot of dentists have this?
Michael Augins: Today digital radiography is in about 30 percent of all U.S. dental practices. That number has been rapidly growing and we expect that more than half of dentists will have it in their practice by 2010. But as dentists replace or upgrade their system, nearly 80 percent of what we sell today at Sirona is digital rather than film.
Fred Joyal: Yeah, understandable because it eliminates all - it's also faster, right? He gets the information right away onto his screen, right?
Michael Augins: Well, that's one of the core benefits for both the patient and the dentist. It actually makes the dental appointment quicker because traditionally what would happen is the X-rays would be taken and it would take between five and eight minutes in a darkroom to develop these images and then they take them out and look at them on a little light screen. And you can only see really in black and white contrast. Today's digital sensors can instantly put the image up on the screen and the dentist can expand that image, they can colorize that image, they can use different measuring tools. And so they have at their disposal a number of things with digital that aren't really practical with a film-based image.
Fred Joyal: So, this X-ray is digital so it's a lot handier for the dentist to use in terms of storing information. Now, if he wants to send it off to a specialist, that's also an advantage, right?
Michael Augins: Absolutely. Rather than having to drop the film in the mail or give it to the patient to take and have the patient have to, you know, care for that and get it to the specialist, typically a digital X-ray can be sent over in a simple e-mail very quickly over the Web.
Fred Joyal: So, he could get a consultation from a specialist. If he saw something he didn't like, he could e-mail it to his friend, the oral surgeon and say, "Tell me what you think is going on here," and that information is a lot easier for everybody to use.
Michael Augins: Absolutely. That happens daily in a lot of digital practices where they might see something that they think might be an abnormality and because of the convenience of being able to transport that data, they're able to get a second and third opinion quite rapidly, sometimes even when the patient is still in the office.
Fred Joyal: So, it's better information, it's done more easily, it's done faster. It sounds like a great advantage for a practice and a great advantage for a patient.
Michael Augins: Absolutely. That's why digital is growing so rapidly and why we think that, really, it will be part of nearly every practice in the near future.
Fred Joyal: Great. Well, thank you very much, Michael.