Buying an intraoral X-Ray sensor?
Picking the best sensor isn’t easy. It’s not often that a practitioner shops for one, so it takes industry expertise and clinical experience to pick the right device, according to BOOM! Supplies.
Plus, it’s an expensive investment. An X-Ray sensor isn’t like your handheld tools that can be swapped if they prove ineffective.
After all, this isn’t a purchase decision you can reverse in a year or two.
So you need patience and research before buying a sensor. And below, we’ll help you with that, by giving you some tips on picking one!
(1) Check Sizes.
A single manufacturer can offer sensors in a multitude of sizes. They’ll correspond to film sizes in X-Ray nomenclature (sizes 0 to 2).
Be sure to check the dimensions of each sensor (since they differ from brand to brand). Also, check the image area that’s produced.
You need a device that’ll cover a multitude of patient sizes and ages. Ask your dental assistants, who should have an idea on the sensor sizes you need (based on film sizes you use).
(2) Photo Quality.
Intra oral sensors have been around since the 1990s. Since then, the image quality they provide has continued to improve.
Image quality matters. And when picking a sensor, you need a resolution that’s visible and accurate.
The metric unit to look at is pairs per millimeter (or lp/mm). You want a visible resolution that’s 20 or higher.
Be sure to ask your manufacturer for noise reduction capabilities (which enhance image quality). Also, ask them to specify the technology they use (such as optical fiber layers).
If you can, try to get a demonstration of the image quality that the X-ray sensor provides.
Why? It’s because you need an accurate sample of how the device performs. And this isn’t something you’ll find in a brochure or a sales representative folder.
Test multiple exposure settings. Look at photos of posterior and dental teeth.
Try to mimic the experience you’ll have with patients using this device. Then, make an assessment on whether the device suits your needs.
(3) Sensor Comfort and Shape.
X-Ray sensors are meant to be used in a patient’s mouth. So they need to be designed for good positioning. They need to be comfortable for the patient, while being easy to handle.
Sensor shapes can either help or halt a practitioner’s efforts. Certain sensors are made with round and smooth corners. Others have sharp 45 degree angles.
We recommend using your experience to select the best design and shape. Let your staff provide input on the design that works best.
Also, you can do some testing. You can role play the positions of sensors to get an understanding on what’s more practical.
Be sure to check for smoothness/sharpness of the sensor. Gag reflex is another factor to watch out for. Also, check for how the cord interacts with the holder.
The interface between your computer and sensor is another factor.
Some models provide a multitude of interfaces (such as Ethernet and USB). USB sensors require you restructure your clinic’s furniture layout. You’ll need your computer to be within 16 inches of your sensor (otherwise, you’ll need a USB booster).
Alternatively, you can try wireless technology. You can use a non-cable connection to your computer (which is perfect for large clinics).
Are you using a reliable sensor? Are there any known failures with the model you’re buying?
We recommend asking the distributor (or other buyers you know) for more info. Also, you can check reviews online with regards to the device you’re buying.
You want to avoid failed sensors as much as possible. Replacing one can be expensive, and it’ll put your practice on hold.
(6) Integrating Software.
You need a sensor that works well with the imaging apps that your computer uses.
We recommend upgrading your application before getting a sensor. Be sure to find an application that uses open architecture. This gives you more options years later when it’s time to upgrade your sensor apps.
As for actual integration, you’ll need to coordinate that with a computer specialist. Ask your sensor supplier the specifications required for your computer.
Good support is always provided by reputable companies. This is necessary in the event that you’d like to replace or repair a sensor that you just bought.
When considering a manufacturer, try to find out how long they’ve been in business. Get to understand whether they have an innovation track record or not.
You can also consult reviews (and dentist referrals) on the reputation of a manufacturer.
If you’re buying a sensor from a local distributor, then they’ll be your main support source.
If you’re buying a sensor directly from a manufacturer, then you may get support from field technicians that work for the company.
Regardless, you’ll need someone to help you fix your sensor if anything goes wrong.
The type of support you can get ranges repairs and replacements, to computer hardware changes, and even software integration.
If you’re dealing with the manufacturer directly, then all the previous options should be provided.
Before buying a sensor, be sure to read thoroughly the policy and terms of the program.
Check for warranty duration after purchase. Also, check for the possibility of extended warranties, and the costs of them.
Try to find a warranty that’ll cover a sensor during its 5 year lifespan. Also, look for replacement guarantees (or at least refurbishment) if your sensor fails during the warranty period.
The last item on our list, and probably the most important factor.
X-ray sensors aren’t cheap. Devices alone are costly, and so is the computer setup required to use them effectively.
Then you’ll need to consider the material for the sensor, such as a film processor, developer chemistry, envelopes and film mounts, etc.