Dental Digital Imaging Sensors for Dental Practice

Sensors can be used in nearly all dental applications in place of the film. There are distinct differences between the two techniques. Sensors are rigid though wider than film and have a wire connection. Here is a look at the pros and cons of dental digital imaging sensors technologies in the market today.

1. Direct sensor technology

A common misconception among most people is that direct radiographic technology implies the ability to view the X-ray image immediately on the monitor. In reality, it refers to the direct image acquisition of the receptor. The receptor can either be a charge-coupled device, CCD or a photostimulable phosphor, PSP.

Direct sensor technology mostly uses the CCD solid-state sensor technology. There are others that use complementary metal oxide semiconductor, CMOS technology.

Pros:
  • The ability to view the images within seconds of acquisition leads to faster workflow.
  • Software-based electronic image processing delivers improved diagnostics.
  • Images can be sent electronically
  • Enhanced image quality control that allows immediate retaking of inadequate images
  • Reduced darkroom errors
  • Radiation dosage is reduced by 80% when compared with D speed film
Cons
  • Extensive dentist and staff training are necessary.
  • Requires image management software and hardware support systems
  • Requires computer workstations.
2. Indirect sensor technology

It uses PSPs as the receptor. Phosphors particles are embedded in the polymer binder and coated to the base of the image plate. The PSP produces a latent image by storing about 50% of the plate’s X-ray energy. The plates exposed to a laser scanner to retrieve the image. They are available in different sizes like dental films but are thinner.

Pros

The merits and limitations of phosphor plate technology are similar to those of direct sensor technology except the following:|

  • It reduces radiation dosage by only 50%
  • Unlike sensors, little staff training is necessary because its operation is similar to that of the film.
Cons
  • Phosphor plate systems do not allow quick mage delivery like direct sensor technology.
  • It is not possible to immediately retake inadequate images.
3. Extraoral sensor technology

Cephalometric and panoramic X-ray systems also come with CCD technology. Consequently, it is possible to acquire images directly and view them on a monitor immediately. Their operation is similar to that of conventional panoramic cephalometric X-ray units.

Pros

This technology has the same advantages as direct sensor technologies. Additional merits include;

  • Does not require a film, processor or phosphor plates
  • Machines offer better view of the alveolar bone
Cons
  • Investment in an entirely new system
In conclusion,

Dental digital imaging technologies offer a top-notch solution to radiography. However, as the norm with emerging technologies in the medical field, their implementation suffers from skepticism and high initial investment cost.

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