Traditional or Digital X-Ray: Which Is Best for Dental Use?

Traditional or Digital X-Ray: Which Is Best for Dental Use?

Oct 17, 2022

Maintaining good oral health is ideal for your overall health. Poor oral health is often associated with other problems like heart disease. The first step towards maintaining oral health has a digital x-ray for teeth conducted at your local dentist. Oral images play a critical role in assisting dentists in diagnosing issues that could cause tooth decay and, in the worst-case scenario, tooth loss at later stages in life.

To be on the safe side, book an appointment with Newburyport Family Dental, which offers digital X-rays in Newburyport, MA.

However, before you visit the dentist for a digital X-Ray, you should familiarize yourself with the common types of dental X-rays. You can either get a digital or traditional X-Ray. They differ in terms of procedures and outcomes. Continue reading to find out which is the best for dental use.

Why Dental X-Rays?

Dentists require dental x-rays to assess the health of your mouth, teeth, and gums. They are pictures of the inside of the mouth, which help dentists to diagnose problems such as cavities, tooth decay, and chipped/cracked teeth.

If you have an appointment for an x-ray, don’t be anxious since it’s as common as your routine professional teeth cleanings. Children, aging individuals, and persons with a history of poor oral health require a dental x-ray annually.

Traditional X-Rays

Traditional x-rays were discovered in 1895, and practitioners used them in the 1900s. They are used to visualize the body’s structure. Traditional x-rays utilize radiation to capture the teeth, gums, and bones in and around the mouth. They produce x-ray images on a film, which the dentist uses to develop and diagnose oral health issues.

Types of Traditional Dental X-Rays

Two significant classifications of traditional x-ray images exist intraoral and extraoral x-rays. Intraoral is widespread since they capture the inside of your mouth. The dentist only requests extraoral x-rays when he suspects an issue with the jaw.

There are several types of intraoral x-rays based on the specific part of the mouth being examined by the dentist. Occlusal x-rays check for overbites or underbites, while bitewing x-rays assess the lineup of your back teeth and the availability of cavities on the teeth.

Also, panoramic x-rays aid the dentist in visualizing the entire mouth, thus being very useful.

However, over the years, other imaging technologies which are superior to traditional imaging have popped up. Traditional x-rays have thus fallen out of favor with the dentist due to the high radiation levels.


Long history – traditional x-rays have been used for over 100 years. The long history helped researchers uncover the relationship between radiation and cell damage.


Produce high radiation – when a traditional x-ray is about to be taken, you are covered with a huge lead apron to protect your body organs from needless radiation, which can damage your health by damaging your DNA.

It’s good to note that radiation experienced during a single session isn’t sufficient to cause problems on its own. However, multiple traditional imaging procedures can have negative consequences if taken continuously.

Digital X-Rays

In the late 1980s, scientists discovered the digital x-ray. Digital radiography utilizes computer technology and electronic sensors and produces tiny bursts of radiation. Unlike traditional x-rays, the image is not printed on a film. Instead, it is projected onto a computer screen as soon as the sensor is placed near the mouth.

However, digital x-rays require dentists to undergo additional training to use the technology seamlessly. Luckily, most dentists believe its benefits outweigh its drawbacks, such as the additional training.

Advantages of Digital X-Rays

  • Less Expensive – Digital x-rays are cheaper than traditional ones since there is no cost for developing any film.
  • Offers results faster – Since the images are projected onto a screen, there is no time spent developing the pictures and waiting for results.
  • Better images – digital radiography produces high-quality images which make it easy for the dentist to diagnose any dental problem.
  • Comfortable procedure – the procedure is comfortable for patients and causes zero anxiety since they don’t experience unfamiliar sights and peculiar smells—also, no lead apron.
  • Minimal radiation – digital radiography exposes you to safer radiation levels that benefit your health.


Currently, most dental offices only offer digital x-rays to their patients. It improves the patient’s experience and reduces the dentist’s liability. Digital x-rays are better because they are cheaper, more transparent, safer, and quicker than traditional radiography. They also allow for easy storage and retrieval of your oral health records.

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