ADAA View Course

Digital Radiography in Dentistry: Moving from Film-Based to Digital Imaging (AGD 730)

Presenter: Gail F. Williamson, RDH, MS


For more than a century, radiographs have been made using radiographic film. However, traditional film is being replaced by digital imaging in both private practice dental offices and academic institutions for educating dental professionals. Digital imaging reduces radiation exposure to the patient and offers quick, convenient image acquisition, viewing and storage and eliminates darkroom processing that leads to many film-based errors.

Technology supporting digital dental radiology began in France in 1984. An article describing direct digital imaging technology was first published in U.S. dental literature in 1989.1 Since then, digital imaging technology has evolved with improvements in sensor design, computer software, hardware packages and technical support. The following course will provide a foundation for understanding digital imaging technology, necessary equipment, digital imaging receptors, technique, acquisition, enhancement, transfer and storage. Comparisons with film-based imaging as well as the diagnostic utility of digital images will be discussed.


Gail F. Williamson is a Professor of Dental Diagnostic Sciences in the Department of Oral Pathology, Medicine and Radiology at Indiana University School of Dentistry in Indianapolis, Indiana. She received an A.S. in Dental Hygiene, a B.S. in Allied Health and a M.S. in Education from Indiana University. A veteran teacher, Prof. Williamson has received numerous awards for teaching excellence. She is a published author and presents numerous continuing education courses on Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology on the national, regional, state and local levels.


After completing this course, the dental professional should be able to:
•  list the basic components of a digital imaging system.
•  outline the advantages and disadvantages of digital imaging as compared to film-based imaging.
•  explain the difference between analog and digital data.
•  differentiate between direct and indirect digital imaging.
•  compare and contrast digital imaging receptors.
•  discuss the basic infection control requirements for intraoral digital receptors.
•  describe the procedure used to acquire and store a digital image.
•  discuss the digital applications for extraoral digital imaging.
•  describe the enhancement features available with digital imaging systems.
•  list common errors that occur in digital imaging.
•  discuss the importance of Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine Standard (DICOM) in digital imaging.


The ADAA has an obligation to disseminate knowledge in the field of dentistry. Sponsorship of a continuing education program by the ADAA does not necessarily imply endorsement of a particular philosophy, product or technique.

The ADAA cautions participants taking this course on the hazards of using limited knowledge when integrating new techniques into their practices.

Credits earned upon completion of this course may be used to meet DANB’s Recertification Requirements.


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