Digital Radiography Myths

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Myth: The thinnest sensors are the most comfortable.
Fact:
This seems to make sense but on examination it is just silly. With this logic pressing a knife blade into your hand would be more comfortable than pressing a spoon. After all, the knife is thinner. Within the range of all sensors on the market, that is 2-4mm thick, the patient acceptance is the same.
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Myth: The cord is a problem.
Fact: The cord simply needs to come out of the mouth it can’t go down the throat. If you can master a saliva ejector you can handle the cord on the sensor.
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Myth: It will cost $40,000 for a digital x-ray system.
Fact: It is quite possible to get a digital x-ray system for $12,000 or less. A good name brand sensor will cost about $8,000 and good software around $4,000. If you want to shop price you could get a system for under $10,000.
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Myth: The price will be coming down soon.
Fact: Prices have been going up. The economies of scale which have driven down the price of many high tech products simply do not apply to digital x-rays. There is no general consumer demand outside of dentistry. The market is limited, and the cost of development, service and support is very high.
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Myth: The staff won’t like it.
Fact: 50,000 plus dental offices are successfully using digital radiography. If the staff doesn’t like it, the problem may be the staff not the system. Most staff resistance problems are really training problems.
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Myth: I need a sensor in every room.
Fact: Most general dental offices can start quite well with just one sensor. The sensor is not only a film substitute it is also a processor substitute. If you can run your dental practice with one film processor you can run the office with one sensor. Multiple doctor offices or offices with lots of pediatric patients may need a second sensor.
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Myth: Wireless phosphor storage systems are less expensive than corded systems.
Fact: Corded systems cost less. As shown above a basic corded system with software is $12,000. Name brand phosphor systems with software are usually more than $20,000.
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Myth: All the sensors are the same.
Fact: All the sensors will deliver an adequate diagnostic image but they are not the same. Sensor reliability varies significantly. Check the warranties for an idea regarding reliability. Image quality varies. Do a side by side comparison or check independent research for comparisons. It isn’t just the sensor but the company behind it and the training service and support that goes with it that makes a difference.
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Myth: Digital x-rays aren’t as good as film.
Fact: Digital x-rays are not the same as film. But that is OK. What we really want is not something that is just like film what we should really want is something that is diagnostic. Based on that criterion, digital radiographs have more data than films and the image can be enhanced with processing software to improve diagnostics.
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Myth: The future seems uncertain.
Fact: The future is coming and it will be amazing!

Larry Emmott

is one of the most entertaining speakers in dentistry and he is considered the leading dental high tech authority in the country. He has over thirty years of experience as a practicing general dentist in Phoenix, AZ. He will have you laughing while you are learning. Check out his site at 

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is one of the most entertaining speakers in dentistry and he is considered the leading dental high tech authority in the country. He has over thirty years of experience as a practicing general dentist in Phoenix, AZ. He will have you laughing while you are learning. Check out his site at 

Last modified: November 6, 2012

4 Responses to " Digital Radiography Myths "

  1. Dr. Freischel says:

    The main concern for me is sterility. I know that you wipe and bag but the studies I have seen show that after one use 66% of the sensors are contaminated. With hepatitis C and needing to at time take an x-ray in a blood contaminated field I worry about cross contamination.

  2. With significantly less radiation, it’s important for both patience and staff.

    Plus, one can’t “zoom” a traditional x-ray.

    Digital may offer greater improve diagnostics.

  3. Larry Emmott says:

    Good comments, I have actually written abook that outlines several of these issues including enhanced diagnostics with appropriate software. You can check it out here: http://www.drlarryemmott.com/general/tech_guides/radiography.htm

    Larry Emmott

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