The shift to digital x-rays has been amazing for the dental industry in quite a few ways. They save you time in the dental chair. They save us the hassle of sending or storing copies. We all save money!
All in all, going digital is a win for everyone.
However, there is another amazing aspect of digital x-raying that isn’t as often mentioned: the environmental impact. Using digital x-rays is great for our planet in a number of ways.
1) Lower Materials Cost
Digital x-rays are taken and stored by in-office computer systems. They are transmitted directly from the x-ray scanner to the dental computer right as they are taken, completely cutting out any need for lab time, transportation, or development. This means:
- Less paper used.
- Fewer chemicals needed.
- Less gasoline burned in transport.
- No negatives.
- No lead foils.
Fewer raw materials are needed to create the paper used to print out x-rays. No developing chemicals must be made and used. Production for casings and film drops to nothing. These may seem like very small things individually, but saving material in all of these areas can really add up.
2) Less Waste
The paper, plastic, and toxic chemicals used with traditional x-rays are all items that also contribute to landfills, pollution, and the need for special disposal services.
This waste goes far beyond just throwing away old x-ray prints or film negatives. In fact, the EDA estimates that U.S. dental offices dispose of 48 million lead foils and 28 million liters of x-ray fixer each year.
Outside of the film development process itself, there is waste and cost everywhere. Mailing a single x-ray can use gasoline, diesel, or even jet fuel. Requiring a separate development lab for film means more electricity, air filtration, and Personal Protective Equipment used by employees.
All of this can be dramatically reduced by moving completely to digital.
3) Physical Space
Paper records take up space. Most dental offices are switching to digital medical records these days because it just makes more sense. Digital records can be:
- Transmitted to another office or insurance agent through the internet.
- Stored in digital archives.
- Searched easily through keywords.
- Duplicated with the click of a button.
- Edited quickly and in an orderly manner.
- Quickly located and referenced in critical situations.
Using digital x-rays allows our office to more effectively transition to a completely digital system for our medical records as well.
Without physical prints of the x-rays to worry about, we can make more efficient use of our office space. No need for files or a development lab. Instead, we can spend more time and space on making sure that your dental experience is extraordinary.