How to Take Better Digital Intraoral Images
Tips to share with the entire dental team
Digital intraoral imaging is an essential part of dentistry today. Although digital radiography delivers superior diagnostic advantages compared to film, success relies on a number of factors: proper sensor placement, good contrast, density, sharpness, and resolution. Learning the best way to manipulate those factors can directly affect image quality. Sometimes it's about machine settings, features, and calibration; other times, it's the x-ray angle, viewing conditions, or anatomy.
As a clinical product trainer and digital intraoral sensor placement specialist for more than 17 years, I have experienced dentistry practiced in all possible forms and have developed techniques to help make capturing images with digital intraoral sensors more consistent.
Consistent Sensor Positioning
Use a holder set to help get and keep the sensor in place and guarantee a good image every time. Place the sensor as parallel to the teeth as possible to help ensure even distribution from the radiation source. A paralleling device, such as the arm and ring positioning system, can help with consistent cone placement and correct angulation. It also provides stability to hold the sensor in the mouth.
Proper X-Ray Head Position
Place the ring against the face and the cone against the ring. This is the only way to ensure consistent image quality every time.
Make sure the exposure KVP and MA settings are correct on the x-ray source (65-70 KVP is suggested). Do not change them between images–they should stay constant during a full-mouth series or bitewings. If you need to change anything, it will be the pulses or exposure times depending on the area of the mouth or size of the patient.
Crisp, Clear Results
When radiation fails to fully reach the sensor, it can result in a lack of signal and grainy images. To avoid grainy images, ensure the cone is against the ring and the ring is against the face. If the positioning is correct, confirm the generator settings (technique factors) are set properly.
Even with the lowest exposure settings, some images can come out too dark. Add a long cone to the x-ray generator. This will create a better image by allowing the rays to travel a longer distance before reaching the target. Also, you can consider updating your generator if it is more than 10 to 15 years old.
Avoiding Crooked Images
If the horizontal bitewings are coming out crooked, make sure an adhesive tab is placed in the center of the sensor and does not twist. Place between the tongue and teeth, and right before the patient closes to pressure, swing the front edge of the sensor to the middle of the mouth to follow the curve of spee and break open the contacts.
About the Author
Mary Ann Rupertus has been with Sirona Dental for nearly 20 years as a clinical specialist. She worked chairside as a dental assistant for 13 years in private practice. She may be contacted via email at MaryAnn.Rupertus@sirona.com.
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Schick by Sirona