The main difference between dental radiography and standard radiography is the film: Standard film uses various intensifying screens to reduce the amount of radiation to produce an image on film and the screens luminate when struck by x-radiation, creating an image. Dental film is a nonscreen film; it requires more radiation to leave an image on film, but provides better detail. Dental film is intended primarily for intraoral use and can be placed close to the object being radiographed, reducing film-object distance, which reduces penumbra distortion and increases image detail. The most commonly used dental films in veterinary dentistry are sizes 2 and 4, with size 2 film being the most versatile. Size 4 film should be used when a larger area, such as a quadrant, needs to be radiographed. Dental film can be used with standard x-ray machines; however, the movable dental x-ray machine makes positioning much easier, quicker, and consistent. There are currently 2 types of digital dental radiographs-direct and indirect. Direct digital dental radiographs are captured by a sensor connected to a computer and displayed typically within 10 seconds. The sensor converts radiation into a light charge that is conveyed as a scale of gray on the screen. Indirect digital dental radiography consists of a sensor that captures and holds the radiation energy, typically on a phosphor plate. The sensor is then placed in a laser device that reads the varying levels of energy and translates this into shades of gray. Recently, there have been some new innovations in the source of radiation. The DC current of electricity in the Progeny VetVision DC dental x-ray machine ( is supposed to provide a more constant ignition of the x-ray electrode, thus giving a constant burst of energy. In addition, handheld units are now available. While these units typically have lower mA and lesser kVp and an adjustable timer, the real advantage is mobility.

COMMENTARY: The article emphasizes the importance of veterinary dental radiography and covers basic equipment needs. It is an excellent overview of various dental radiographic units and vendors (with Web sites) and should be helpful for anyone interested in purchasing a unit. A comprehensive review of standard dental films and newer digital sensors is presented as well as the pros and cons of each. The different digital software programs are briefly covered along with the companies that have digital software and the vendors for each one.

What's new in dental radiography: Digital vs film & recent innovations. Peak RM. NAVC PROC 2009, pp 270-272.