HANDHELD DENTAL X RAY MACHINE
Intraoral radiography is a long-standing and essential tool to support the diagnosis, treatment, and management of dental disease. Back in 1895, when Wilhelm Roentgen took the first X-ray, he probably never imagined it would spark the digital revolution in today's high-tech wall-mounted and handheld X-ray equipment. Both wall-mounted units and hand-held devices are X-ray sources used to generate dental images using film, phosphor plates, or digital sensors. Traditional intraoral X-ray equipment is designed to be attached to a wall or ceiling, with an exposure button located behind a protective barrier to ensure the operator is not exposed to X-rays. Handheld X-ray devices, developed in the early 1990s for military medical and humanitarian missions, have grown in popularity in dental practice over the past few years, challenging the concept of a "controlled area."
When using traditional wall-mounted units, the operator must leave the room and stand behind a shielding wall during exposure. Today, handheld battery-operated devices allow you to stay in the room with your X-ray equipment. There are various handheld devices on the market that have advantages and disadvantages compared to wall-mounted devices. They come in two forms, a hair dryer-like pistol design operated by a trigger on the handle, and a button-operated camera-like design.
The basic components of the hand-held device include the X-ray tube assembly, the irradiation switch on the fuselage, and the protective shield on the tapered end to reduce backscattered radiation to the operator. Handheld devices are an attractive solution for dental offices looking to avoid the cost of purchasing a wall-mounted unit for each operating room. However, before deciding to "get out of the woods" and invest in handheld devices, it's critical to get the full picture by evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of these new devices.
Indications for the use of hand-held dental X-ray:
The use of hand-held portable X-ray equipment can be divided into patient-related and forensic situations.
Intraoral dental radiography for patients
In general, hand-held portable X-ray equipment should only be used when the patient is considered to require intraoral radiography and the use of fixed-mounted or semi-mobile X-ray equipment proves impractical, such as:
i. An operating room where no permanently installed X-ray unit is available and the patient is under general anesthesia or sedation.
ii. Emergency rooms, operating rooms, wards, or other hospital facilities for patients with reduced mobility.
iii. Nursing homes, residential care facilities, or homes for people with disabilities that affect mobility or their general health and therefore cannot travel to a health care facility. In this case, subsequent treatment should be considered before justifying the X-ray procedure. If follow-up treatment is not possible on-site, the patient may need to be transferred to a medical facility, where X-ray imaging can be performed.
iv. Detention center facilities in which personnel are confined and cannot be easily moved or transferred.
v. Working in remote areas without dental facilities, such as military operations abroad.
vi. Dental support is provided in rural areas of developing countries or in remote areas without dental facilities.
For forensic dentistry,
Hand-held portable X-ray devices can be used in forensic dentistry applications, such as in large-scale disasters or fatal accidents, where large numbers of individuals must be identified on-site or in facilities that lack fixed installation units. In addition, in large-scale disaster areas, power supply may be cumbersome or not available, or fixed X-ray units may be damaged by constantly fluctuating wiring. In these cases, hand-held portable X-ray equipment may be beneficial for the identification process.
Benefit of Handheld Dental X-Rays
The operator can be present with the patient during the X-ray examination.
• Take radiographs twice as fast as conventional X-ray systems.
• Reduce the number of retakes by up to 50%.
• Move handheld X-ray equipment from room to room without multiple units.
• Take it with you - ideal for hospital, home healthcare, humanitarian and on-the-go use.
• Any high degree of flexibility allows easy exposure with the patient recumbent, fully supine or upright.
• Less chance of conization and other errors when taking X-rays.
• No need to follow exact angles. Typically, 90° or perpendicular to the film or sensor.
• Lightweight, cordless, and easy to carry.
• No clumsy arms to maneuver, no drift.
• No need for special stands, cables, remote controls, and hundreds of diagnostic quality images on a single charge.
• Suitable for sensors, films, fluorescent plates.
• Particularly valuable in the dental operating room.
• Ideal for sedated patients, children, elderly, or those with special needs.
• Ideal for general dentistry, humanitarian work, clinics, mobile, home health care, hospitals.
• It is rechargeable, so no current is required to operate the device.
Drawbacks of Handheld Dental X-Rays
Despite its attractive benefits, handheld devices also have some drawbacks. First, equipment can be knocked to the ground or dropped while being transported from one operating room to another or trying to adjust X-rays. If the equipment is damaged, it must be sent in for repair, and the office does not have an X-ray source to take X-rays.
Second is the fatigue that can result from the operator's entire weight holding and supporting the unit; a handheld device weighing between five and eight pounds is the equivalent of carrying a large bag of flour. If the design of the device is more ergonomic, the level of fatigue can be reduced. If operators have to put down equipment to make adjustments, productivity can suffer.
Additionally, if the operator grabs the battery while the patient is sitting in the chair and finds that the battery is not working, the operation may be interrupted. Therefore, someone must supervise and monitor the battery and maintain the charged backup battery pack. Image quality may also suffer from reduced or inconsistent radiation output as battery power is reduced.
Frustration can be a problem if a piece of equipment is shared among many operators, and operators must find the piece of equipment and wait for it to become available. Then there is the issue of disinfection. Handheld devices cannot be sterilized; however, to comply with infection control standards, they need to be wiped with a sanitizing cloth between patients or at another regular interval. After the phone is powered off and connected, an acetone-free cleaner with less than 20% alcohol can be used to avoid damage to the case and bezel area. The risk of cross-contamination can also be reduced by placing single-use plastic barriers on the equipment.