Digital vs. Traditional X-ray: No Contest!

By John P. Marconnit, DDS

I usually ignore contest entries, but I’m glad that I filled one out that day. I had already forgotten about it when, 10 months later while pheasant hunting, I got a phone call from my assistant: “You’re not going to believe this…” We had won a digital X-ray system from DEXIS®—a prize that would change so many aspects of our office life into winning situations.

At the time, our front office was already computerized, and I had begun to research various systems to add to our equipment. My good fortune at winning the new digital system gave me the kick that I needed to make the final jump, adding computers, monitors in each operatory and hygiene room, and a new intraoral camera, the DEXcam™.

We are one of the first offices in our area to have this new dental technology, adding to our reputation as dental technology leaders. Digital radiography is a fabulous educational tool. Patients are impressed with their clear and detailed images on our large computer monitors. I can go over my diagnosis and treatment plan in detail and get instantaneous feedback. The intraoral cameral also facilitates patient understanding— I don’t have to show them their mouth upside down and backwards. I can print intraoral images and before-and-after images for patients to take home so they can show the successful results to their friends and family.

Besides the positive impact on the patients, our new digital system makes life easier on the staff and the environment. It’s a time saver. When we make referrals, we either e-mail the image directly to the doctor or print a copy and send it with the patient, eliminating the need to duplicate traditional films. This also eliminates the extra effort and expense of duplicating them and mailing paperwork to the insurance companies, many of whom no longer return traditional film X-rays. In some cases, I even e-mail images to the lab to focus on specific details of the lab case.

Besides the front office, the assistants and hygienists appreciate the time savings. They get immediate feedback; if a retake is needed they see it on the monitor immediately. It also helps with emergencies, when you really don’t want to wait for film to develop in a processor, and then make the patient wait even longer for a retake. The staff embraced the fact that we can forget the film processor, with its smelly and toxic chemicals. With concerns about environmental impact, all of the chemicals had to be hauled away by a disposal company. Digital means no mess, no fuss, and no added expense.

Since the digital system arrived, the change in the office is pretty remarkable. My digital system made winners out of my practice and my patients; we may have won our digital system by chance, but if we had to choose between digital and traditional now, there’s really no contest.

Dr. Marconnit graduated from Indiana University School of Dentistry in 1981. In that same year, he began practicing in Lewiston, MI, and has been providing dental care to patients in the East Twin Lakes area since then. He is a member of the Michigan Dental Association and the American Dental Association. His winning team includes two hygienists and two assistants. He is the 2007 winner of the DEXIS® system sweepstakes.