Dental Digital Imaging

Everything there is to know about a digital dental radiograph

А digital dental radiograph is a unique tool that is usually used for performing radiography before performing various treatment procedures. Typically, this device uses X-ray beams as the primary source for taking images. X-ray beams pass through the human body, land into the receiver, and transform into imaging, which then shows on the screen.

A digital dental radiograph is usually much smaller than a regular X-ray unit and can be even fully portable. These devices are sometimes useful in different types of diagnostic procedures in various other medical fields. These include maxillofacial surgery, neurosurgery, neurology, and a few others. 

History of a Dental Digital Imaging Radiograph

The first-ever known exploration that made the appearance of dental digital radiography was in 1895 by Wilhelm Roentgen, who discovered the X-rays. He used a fluorescent, silver-covered paper to get the first images, which was pretty low quality, but still extremely valuable for diagnostic purposes.

The next pretty valuable apparatuses discovery happened during the mid-1980s when the digital images replaced the traditional conventional screen-film radiography. The use of the first computers began for pre-processing, visualization, and storage of patient's images. That formed almost all conditions needed to create a fully functional device of such kind.

In 1987, Dr. Francis Mouyen created the first known prototype of dental digital radiography called the radio vision graphic (RVG) system. After that, an engineer, and physician, Paul Suni, created the unique image sensor technology (CCD sensor). Combining the two technologies mentioned above makes it possible for a digital radiography system to show up after some time.

Indications to use a digital dental radiograph

Concerning the various procedures in dentistry, this apparatus is useful exclusively for diagnostic needs. It can also be replaced with a traditional conventional device. Still, overall radiation exposure will be up to 80% higher in that case, which may be uncomfortable for various categories of population, such as children, elderly, and pregnant women. By using a digital dental radiograph, a doctor may verify the following diagnoses:

  • Caries of different localization
  • Root canal curvatures
  • Teeth canal transportation
  • Dental abscesses of different localization
  • Particular or full anodontia
  • Hypodontia
  • Hyperdontia
  • Concrescence
  • Dens invagination and evagination
  • Dental fluorosis
  • Tooth impaction
  • Regional odontoid dysplasia
  • And many others

Another big group of different pathological states diagnosed by using a digital dental radiograph is various maxillofacial surgical pathologies. Those pathologies very often connect with multiple infectious diseases that usually go neglected. Those diseases include numerous types of different unspecific bacterial infections of the bones or various other pathological states connected with face and jaws bones. Among them are:

  • Osteomyelitis of various localization
  • Face, maxillary or mandibular fractures
  • Cleft lips
  • Palate
  • Macroglossia
  • Vascular malformations
  • Neurofibromatosis type I
  • Carcinoma
  • Lingual Thyroid
  • Myxedema
  • Amyloidosis
  • Open bite

Sometimes, when the patient is in a pretty bad condition and cannot move, stand, or lay, performing a proper procedure on the different traditional X-ray apparatus may be difficult. Thus, the mobile dental digital imaging unit may be useful instead when doing a diagnostic process. Almost any part of a human body may be researched, with small portable units. However, the overall number of the fully complete procedure sequences will increase significantly.

Among the other indications for the usage of the device are various types of orthodontics operations. The dental digital radiography used not only for different diagnostic purposes but also while treatment process control and general routine check-ups for patients with different dental braces, veneers, and steel constructions of other types on the teeth or jaws.

Complications of using a digital dental radiograph

The leading group of complications, connected with using these apparatuses, are different issues related to radiation exposure. For example, when a medical staff performs different diagnostic procedures with a finger pressing on any tissues on the patient's body, that is being irradiated, too many times in a row or for too long (e. g., when fluoroscopy performed), that may lead to a different finger pathologies occurrence.

The second major group of different complications is with the various malfunction of the apparatus itself divided into two main subgroups. The first is constant, high radiation contamination of the surrounding surfaces, floor, and walls due to its protection mechanisms breaking. And the second is a potential risk of the possible traumas and injuries due to its general breakdowns. Sometimes, subcutaneous and retropharyngeal emphysema may occur.

The third big group of complications is with various bacterial invasions that can potentially occur due to the contamination through the surface of the apparatuses itself while performing the diagnostic procedure on a patient with pathogenic strains of different bacterias or numerous infectious diseases. Those groups of complications are the main reason why, before every new patient, all touchable parts of the unit need to be cleaned and decontaminated.

General Specifications 

As there are lots of different kinds of apparatuses nowadays, it was not a simple task picking the most popular among them for further specification, data collection, analysis, and making a list. We decided to pick up fifteen most crucial specifications and make an average number from a few models available nowadays on the market:

  • Tube arm - up to 1200mm
  • The machine - motor-driven operation 
  • LCD monitor - included
  • PACS and RIS - included at no extra cost
  • Integrated battery charger(s) - included
  • Generator - inverter type, high frequency
  • Maximum power - not less than 125 kV
  • Maximum tube current - at least 400 mA
  • Power supply - 220 – 240 V @ 60 HZ @ Single phase 
  • mAs setting - at least 320 mAs or higher 
  • Anode - dual focus, rotating
  • Focal spot size - 0.3 - 0.7 mm, with a small focus range
  • Anode heat capacity - not less than 200 kHU
  • Maximum SID to the floor - within 2010 - 2022 mm
  • Tube arm reach - for 600 mm (min) up to 1000 mm (max)

There is an excellent document that allows everybody to see all the following specifications for the device, according to the Philippines standards, which are pretty much the same, as in the USA. There you can find even more information about any specifications of the digital dental radiograph.

Market Leaders

There were not many outstanding manufacturers of these apparatuses, as they usually produce traditional X-ray apparatuses, computer tomography devices, and magnetic resonance imaging tools as well. So, we picked up only those companies that sell exclusively different dental digital imaging units. They appear to be:

  • A. R. C.
  • 3M Espe
  • Dec
  • A - Dec
  • Kerr
  • Devil Biss
  • Gilson
  • Genius First Temp
  • Impact Instrumentation

A few extremely high-quality manufacturers also existed, producing lots of different techniques. They are mostly pretty costly, but the quality of their products speaks for itself, and they take the leader position on the market since the 2017 year.


There are lots of different models of digital dental radiographs that exist on the market. However, as many hospitals had traditional X-ray units, they rarely buy those. They are still beneficial in performing various diagnostic procedures in dentistry, neurosurgery, and verification of a few maxillofacial surgery pathologies.

In any case, these devices, probably, may also be useful for different therapeutic purposes, like treatment of the superficial tumors, skin cancer, and lower down the chronic pain syndrome that accompanies a lot of various pathologies.