Dental Digital Imaging consists of the software – like Dexis, Dental Eye, or Dentrix Image that links Intraoral, Extraoral, and X-ray images to patients in your Practice Management Software.
The use of different x-ray sources, including portable ones like the Nomad will also be discussed.
There are many different configurations of equipment – digital radiography sensors, software, and intra-oral cameras, that you can choose from and this article will attempt to help you make those decisions. This will always be a work in progress as new equipment and software becomes available, so check back for updates.
This information comes from first-hand experience!
To make the best use of digital radiography and imaging, you need several components:
1. Obviously some computers and dental practice management software like Dentrix, Eaglesoft, EasyDent, Mogo, Practiceworks, etc.
2. Digital imaging software like Dexis, or Dental Eye which can cost from $0 – $3k per office. Make sure of course that it is compatible with your PMS above, sensor and intraoral cameras too.
3. Digital X-ray sensors – which will cost between $3,000 – $10,000 each and you will need more than 1 for each office.
An office with 4 treatment rooms can get by with a Size 1 and a Size 2, but a busy office with 10 chairs should have at least 3 Size 2 (adult) sensors, and a Size 1 (pedo) sensor – more if you have a pediatric practice.
Don’t forget the sensors need to be plugged in – if your computers are hidden inside cabinets, or far away enough from the patient chairs you will need a usb extension cable for every treatment room (around $5 each).
Most usb ports do NOT have enough power to support a demanding device like an x-ray sensor, which means you will also need a powered usb hub for every computer which cost about $25 each.
Patient comfort is VERY important when using a digital sensor. Smaller sensors with rounded corners may be easier on the gingiva, but may require more images to get the whole picture.
I’ve heard and seen lots of different comments and opinions on this, but the bottom line is that digital sensors are usually more comfortable, and faster than conventional film if the operator is properly trained and doing it correctly.
4. Intraoral cameras cost between $100 – $3,000 each, and having one in every room makes the most sense. If you are wondering how effective showing patients the inside of their own mouth on the big screen is for case acceptance, get one for a hygiene room, use it consistently, and then track the results for those patients!
5. The first monitor on the computer may be great to view the x-ray images for the provider, but using a 2nd monitor where the patient can easily view from the chair will take full advantage of this technology. Showing intra oral camera images and digital x-rays to explain needed treatment significantly increases your treatment plan acceptance. Seeing is believing and a single photo of an infected nerve in a bicuspid will sell more root canal therapy than a thousand explanations. 2nd monitor = $200, bracket = $80 – $600, long hdmi/dvi/vga cable to plug the monitor into the computer = around $50 each room.
6. The only way to get any x-ray is to expose some X-radiation, and picking the right equipment is another important consideration. I’ve never seen one attached to a wall that did not get in the way at some point, and you always need to either position them in the wall between the ops to share, or get one for every room. Mounted units are always subject to anomalies in the electric system of your office, but portable ones like the Nomad use batteries with a very consistent output. Portable x-rays are great for getting the right angle, but the bottom price is at least $5,000. NEVER buy one from China for less than this – these are very dangerous!
Remember, that digital sensors typically use much less x-ray exposure than conventional film.