Ask Marty: What is the least expensive way to get started with digital radiography?

By Martin Jablow, DMD

June 19, 2009 -- Q: I want to add digital radiography to my practice, including panoramic images. What is the least expensive way to get started?

A: Congratulations on getting ready to make the transition to digital radiography. Digital imaging equipment will offer substantial time savings, ease of use, and superior diagnostic quality.

The first things you will need are computers in your operatories. To keep costs down, you can use notebook computers. I would recommend using a separate monitor attached to the notebook. Most notebook computers screens are not optimal for viewing radiographs. You need a monitor with a minimum 600:1 contrast ratio. By connecting a separate monitor, you can view radiographs on one monitor and have your practice management software running on the other.

The ScanX digital radiography system. Image courtesy of Air Techniques.
You will also need a wired network, not a wireless one. This will ensure reliability in transferring images to your server.

The least expensive way to deploy digital radiography in your office is with a phosphor plate system, such as the ScanX from Air Techniques.

With ScanX, you are able to digitally process any size x-ray, intraoral or extraoral. Phosphor plates are manufactured to match the sizes of traditional film. Just replace your film with the corresponding phosphor plate!

You place the panoramic plate in your panoramic system without an intensifying screen, and take the radiograph just as you have always done. The best thing is your staff does not have to learn anything new. Just think of the scanner as a different type of film developer. It will take less than a minute to scan a panoramic plate.

For less than the cost of a digital panoramic unit, you can have a complete digital radiography system.

Martin Jablow, D.M.D., is a practicing dentist and a self-professed technophile who lectures and blogs on a variety of technologies used in dentistry ( If you have a technology question for Dr. Jablow, e-mail it to us at

Copyright © 2009


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