Few accidents in history have had the profound and lasting effect as the x-ray. One hundred and twenty two years ago the practice of medicine was forever changed and the ability for physicians to operate on their patients reached new heights. Since then, surgeons of all disciplines have been able to see inside their patients to diagnose their ailments. With new 3D imaging technology x-rays have never been safer or more accurate. As an oral surgeon Dr. Sedaros uses x-rays every day to help treat his patients. In today’s blog we’ll teach you a bit more about how this incredible technology came to be.

Borne of an Accident

In 1895 a German physicist named Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen was testing the abilities of cathode rays in his Wurzburg Germany laboratory. He wanted to know if the rays could  pass through glass and noticed that the rays gave off a glow when they came in contact with a chemically treated screen nearby. He called them X-rays because he had no idea where they came from. He began experimenting with these rays and soon discovered that they passed through soft tissues but were stopped by denser tissues like bone, and metal.  This discovery enabled physicians to look into their patients and better diagnose their patients. In 1897, only two years after their discovery they were used for the first time in the Balkan War to better understand the severity of broken bones in soldiers.

There was no way that Mr. Rontgen could have known that x-rays were extremely harmful and had the potential to cause acute cancer. In 1904 when Thomas Edison’s assistant died of skin cancer many scientists began to wonder how safe x-rays were. But their commercial appeal and clinical value made them a modern marvel that they remained in use without protection. In fact in up until the 1950s they were used commonly in shoe stores to show customers how the bones in their feet moved in different forms of footwear. Finally in the 1950s the risk of using x-rays without cause was acknowledged as harmful and the practice stopped.

For his discovery Mr. Roentgen won the first nobel prize in physics. He never patented his accidental discovery enabling x-rays to be used by doctors, security devices, and material analysis.

X-rays and Oral Surgery

As an oral surgeon, Dr. Sedaros has the privilege of using x-ray technology nearly every day.  He uses x-rays to see how he can best treat his patients. X-rays can be used to discover the severity of an impacted wisdom tooth, to reveal the true amount of bone loss and the progress of a bone graft when dental implants are needed. He can also evaluate the amount of breakage and bone damage done to patients who have suffered facial trauma. The ability for this Melbourne, Florida oral surgeon to see inside his patients bodies enables Dr. Sedaros to expertly, and precisely treat many conditions of the maxilla, mandible and surrounding tissues.

X-Rays Of Today

As with all technology founded by accident, improvement is inevitable. The high amounts of radiation cast off by early x-rays were extremely harmful to those exposed. Cancer and cell damage were responsible for high rates of cancer and death. The use of lead blankets stopped much of this exposure, but now cone-beam x-rays can provide not only images of the bones, but digital 3D renderings while using the smallest amount of radiation possible.

3D x-ray machines are amazing because instead of being put in the path of a wide range of x-rays, highly controlled beams of radiation are maneuvered around only the area in need of an image. Also, because they are recorded digitally instead of on film, the amount of radiation is diminished significantly. Further because these digital images  are three dimensional, Dr. Sedaros can manipulate them to see the entirety of the bone and any potential issues. The result is a better diagnosis and more informed treatment.

Next time you have an x-ray taken, take a second to think about how amazing this technology is, and how it was created by accident 122 years ago in a lab in Germany. If you have questions about your x-rays, don’t hesitate to ask your Melbourne, Florida oral surgeon today.