In 2015, the average number of intraoral X-ray shots taken per dental office in the U.S. ranged from 200 to 250 per week. There are three methods for taking intraoral X-ray shots, including analog film, photostimulable phosphor (PSP) plates and digital sensors. Analog film captures X-ray images which must be subsequently developed in a dark room or with an electronic film processor.
PSP plates capture images in a method similar to film. The plates must then be scanned by a PSP system which will convert the image into a digital file made viewable on any computer using imaging software. Finally, digital sensors are electronic devices that allow the direct acquisition of a digital X-ray image without any intermediary processing step.
Extraoral procedures are split between analog film panoramic, digital panoramic and cephalometric procedures. In 2015, the average number of extraoral X-ray shots performed by dental offices in the U.S. ranged from 15 to 20 per week. A panoramic extraoral X-ray consists of a scanner rotating around a patient's head, providing one seamless shot. A sensor situated on the opposite end captures the X-rays that display the front view of the patient's entire mouth, including the jaw and teeth. A cephalometric shot consists of a side view X-ray image of patient's head, while a CBCT scan produces a three-dimensional image of the patient's skull.