The ability to accurately diagnose patients starts with the right diagnostic tools and equipment. In a dental practice, one of the most important pieces of equipment is a dental X-ray machine. X-rays are necessary to truly see what types of issues need to be corrected and evaluate the condition of the teeth, which is why they’re clearly such an essential part of any practice. However, the process of how to choose an X-ray machine isn’t as clear. There are frequent advances in technology to master, and the features and specifications can be complex. The following guide provides helpful tips for deciding which type of X-ray machine is right for your needs as a dentist.
Film vs. Digital X-Ray Machines
Perhaps the most important decision you’ll have to make when choosing an X-ray machine is whether to use traditional film or digital X-rays. For many years, film X-rays were the standard choice, but today’s modern digital dental X-rays are becoming more popular. Conventional film X-rays use more radiation to capture images and require time to develop in a darkroom with chemicals. Digital machines use X-ray sensors and the images are instantly available for viewing. Because of these advantages, most practices are updating their equipment with digital panoramic X-ray machines.
Features to Consider
When comparing different X-ray machine models, keep the following features in mind to make sure you find one that’s a good fit for the needs of your practice:
Ease of use: The machine itself should be easy to use, but if you’re using a digital model, make sure the imaging software is intuitive as well. Reviews often give excellent insight into how difficult it is to master each device.
Size: The footprint of the machine is important, especially in smaller offices. Make sure it will easily accommodate your patients without taking up too much space.
Scan time: How long does it take to capture each image? Longer scan times can affect the comfort of your patients and slow down your appointments.
Sensor type: Another issue affecting patient comfort is the sensor size and design. Be sure to consider whether your sensors will work for both adults and children.
Brand reputation: Choosing equipment from a trusted brand is important, especially when it comes to something that affects diagnostic outcomes. Brands like Soredex, Vatech, Acteon, Carestream, Gendex and Owandy are great choices whether you are buying new or certified pre-owned X-ray machines.
Digital X-Ray Machine Accessories
Are you thinking about adding some upgrades to your X-ray machine now or in the future? Make sure you consider that when you select a machine model. Many dentists use a 2D digital dental panorex X-ray machine for most of their patients. A popular upgrade is a 3D cone beam system which allows for more imaging capabilities, but not all 2D models can accommodate this added feature. The same can be said for lateral cephalometric imaging, which is often used for orthodontics. If you plan to add these upgrades down the road, check whether the models you are considering can switch between different sensors to provide different types of imaging results.