Film Speed




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Note: This page relates nearly exclusively to the technology of radiographic film.  As the popularity of digital sensors grows, more and more dentists are abandoning film for computerized images.  Many offices, however, are still wedded to film and its processing.  Thus, it is still essential that anyone involved in radiographic technique understand this material.

Film Speed

One of the biggest misconceptions in dentistry today is that slower speed films are always a better choice for dental x-ray imaging than faster speed films. Early generations of film did require users to trade off between speed and image quality. An E or F-speed film will look "grainer" than a D-speed film when examined side-by-side. However, this has been proven by independent research not to negatively affect the diagnostic efficacy of the film. In recent years the technology has improved even more.

Film speed is a term that refers to how efficiently the light-sensitive agents in a film emulsion react to energy (e.g., e-rays or light) exposure. The two film speeds most commonly used in dental imaging today are D-speed and E-speed. Recently, however, Kodak introduced a true F-speed film. D-speed is the slowest film of the three, and F-speed is the fastest.

Faster radiographic films detect the image-forming element (light for photographic films, or x-rays for intraoral x-ray films) more efficiently than slower films.

In dental imaging, that means that when you use a faster film, you can reduce the amount of radiation required to expose the film and obtain a usable image. For example, Kodak InSight, an F-Speed dental film, lets you reduce radiation exposure by up to 60 percent as compared to Kodak Ultra-Speed dental film, a D-speed product.  F-speed film is beginning to become more and more popular in dental offices.

One of the biggest breakthroughs in film design was the development of T-Grain emulsions. The radiation-sensitive compound in dental x-ray film is silver halide, a salt of silver. Silver halide crystals, in their naturally occurring form, are pebble-shaped.  However, Kodak scientists have discovered a method of manufacturing the crystals in a flatter shape.  These flat crystals intercept more light but the total amount of silver does not increase.  This allows for an increase in speed with less noticeable grain. Kodak incorporated this T-Grain emulsion breakthrough into its E-speed dental x-ray film, Ektaspeed plus. As a result, Ektaspeed plus film delivers excellent image quality while at the same time allowing dental professionals to reduce radiation exposures significantly.

T-Grain emulsion

Silver Bromide x-tals

KODAK T-GRAIN Emulsion crystals

Conventional silver-halide crystals

Incorporating T-GRAIN Emulsions into a film improves film speed without sacrificing fine grain. The uniquely shaped grains align better than conventional silver crystals, absorbing and transmitting light more effectively.

Film Speed and the Future

Again using patented T-Grain film technology, Kodak has developed a new dental x-ray film that is even faster than Ektaspeed plus film. Kodak InSight dental film, a new F-speed film, has demonstrated image quality characteristics that are better than Kodak Ektaspeed plus film - and it is even faster. Dentists who helped test InSight dental film reported it helped them reduce radiation exposures by as much as 25 percent compared to Ektaspeed plus film.

The dentist must consider many factors before making decisions on film speed. However, today's high-quality E-speed and F-speed films deliver diagnostic capabilities that meet the standards set long ago by D-speed films. [i]

Dentists and allied dental professionals often seek CE courses from ADA CERP recognized providers to fulfill their CE requirements for re-licensure.   Most state and provincial licensing boards will accept CE credits issued by ADA CERP recognized providers. In the spring of 2003, the FDI World Dental Federation became the first internationally based CE provider to be granted ADA CERP recognition.

Please contact your state board directly for their specific rules and regulations. Most states approve supervised self-study courses that are ADA CERP accredited.

Those dentists, hygienists, dental assistants and radiographers interested in receiving 3 continuing education credits for this course may take a 10 question test at a cost of $35 and receive their certificate immediately by clicking here.

Those dentists, hygienists, dental assistants and radiographers interested in receiving 8 continuing education credits for this course may take a 25 question test at a cost of $66 and receive their certificate immediately by clicking here.

Note: There are no questions on tables or Glossary.

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[i] http://www.kodak.com/US/en/health/dental/focus/dentHyFsFq.jhtml Downloaded 12/20/01







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