The value of a dental x-ray

August 19, 2012

Dental, Environment, Health, Lifestyle

by Dr. Nicholas J. Meyer — 

The digital revolution has changed the way dentistry will be practiced forever.

Dental radiographs or x-rays are a necessary evil of our times; they also are a wonderful blessing. The evils of exposing ourselves to ionizing radiation are frequently blown out of proportion to the good they provide. Like so many things in our lives, it is a matter of balance.

Ionizing radiation is a fact of life. We get it from the sun and, if you travel, from TSA screening. We get free vitamin D when we go outdoors to get that glowing tan; yet that same sun can give us skin cancers, a weathered look and splotches.

Dentists cannot practice without using x-ray images. The latest in high-speed “film” brings the dose down considerably from what it was 20 years ago. Even better are the newer digital technologies. While using substantially less radiation (up to two-thirds less), they provide more data, and therein lies the problem. Since we have the ability to know so much more, this requires a higher-level thinking because we have to digest and process a great deal more information.

The digital revolution has changed the way dentistry will be practiced forever. We now have a wonderful opportunity to capture the x-ray image at a fraction of the time and radiation exposure we did just a few short years ago. Digital color imaging has brought some of the arcane into our personal awareness. In other words, a dentist can show you what they see and why they make their recommendations. When provided access to an “imaging suite,” you become a much more involved and engaged participant in the process of caring for your health. You need no longer simply be at the mercy of what someone tells you; you can see it for yourself.

How nice is it to be a full participant in your own health and feel good about how to move ahead, fully armed with information to make proper decisions. Viva la x-ray!


Nicholas Meyer, D.D.S., is a general dentist in Scottsdale, Ariz. He has a special interest in the functional aspects of the oral cavity that contribute to such maladies as TMJ, snoring and sleep apnea. 480-948-0560 or

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 26, Number 5, October/November 2007.

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