My digital experience began seven years ago with just one laptop and a powerful little sensor, the DEXIS® Classic. Over the years, I have been constantly impressed by the opportunities that digital radiography have offered for improved diagnosis and patient education.
With the debut of a new sensor, DEXIS Platinum, imaging has become even better. The clear, crisp images retain incredible detail even when enlarged. The nice part is that dentists and their teams don’t need to understand the complexities behind the magic. For us, it is as easy as pushing a button. I am not a technology person, but have done a bit of research on the technology behind the research and engineering. It has given me an even greater appreciation for the final result—a sensor that gives us the most diagnostic information.
In life, we learn that that nothing is really ever black and white. We strive to “read between the lines,” in business dealings and in our social interactions. These concepts become particularly appropriate when delving into the Platinum’s sensor technology. This is an extreme case of not seeing things in terms of just black and white. This small sensor has a 14-bit analog-to-digital converter that generates 16,000 shades of gray. With that many gradations, even the subtlest details of the anatomy become visible.
As for “reading between the lines,” the clarity of digital images is, in part, related to lines—specifically the number of pairs of adjacent black-and-white lines that can be seen per millimeter (lp/mm). One way to judge image quality is with the use of a piece of equipment called a line pair “phantom.” When this device is exposed with a sensor, the resulting image shows a numbered gauge along with a V-shaped set of lines. At one end, these lines are far apart; at the other end, they merge.
The goal is to follow the lines as they become closer together. At the point where the lines are not touching or becoming blurred, notice the number that this area corresponds to on the gauge. This is the number of line pairs the sensor is capable of capturing. The higher the number, the higher the resolution of the image. For Platinum, this “sweet spot” of line pairs is more than 20, creating noticeably detailed resolution.
Related to resolution is another minute measurement—the technology of pixels. One megapixel is equal to one million pixels. Platinum has a 2.2 megapixel size. That’s a lot of pixels squeezed into such a small package. The result is the production of an image so clear that enlarging it will not result in pixilation. Clinically, that means that I can explore the smallest details on the largest image that I need.
Another line to efficiency is the distance between my sensor and the computer’s USB port. With direct-to-USB capability, the extra adaptors and docking stations of other sensors are no longer necessary. Platinum’s technology bypasses the extra accessories and has incorporated the function of these devices into the actual sensor itself—no small feat. To me, this means less equipment to maintain and an easier transfer from one operatory to another. The USB connector is even gold plated, making it more durable.
My practice’s digital evolution has come a long way from one laptop to my present office that is equipped with several radiology areas. After practicing for 39 years, I’ve seen a lot of X-rays, and I gladly admit my team and I have become “digital dependent.” My DEXIS system has paid for itself over and over, and with the Platinum sensor, this remarkable technology offers even more possibilities. While all of this technology is very complicated, as dentists we are lucky that we don’t need to fully understand line pairs and capture devices to use it—for us, it’s as easy as black and white (and 16,000 shades of gray).