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S P Patil Dental CollegeCollege

Dr. Zaveria Fatima

Dental X-ray image characteristics include both visual & geometric characteristics. Visual characteristics: Density. Contrast. Geometric characteristics: Sharpness. Magnification. Distortion or Blurring. Speed

Dark Gray to Black
A structure that lacks density appears radiolucent e.g. soft tissue & spaces

White to Light Gray
Radiopaque structures are dense & absorb X-ray, e.g. enamel, dentine, & bone.

I) Density
Represents the degree of darkness of an exposed xray film (white to black)

The overall density of the film affects the diagnostic value of the film (ideal density, too light, too dark)

Density is influenced by:

1. Exposure factors: mA kV Exposure time 2. Object thickness 3. Object density 4. Film fog

Exposure factors (mA, kVp, exposure time). An unnecessary increase in any of these factors results in an increase in film density.
Object thickness: the larger the patients head, the more x-rays that are needed to produce an ideal film density Object density: determined by type of material (metal, tooth structure, composite, etc.) and by amount of material

Film Fog
Increased film density from causes other than exposure to the primary xray beam (scatter, improper safe lighting, improper film storage, expired film)


II) Contrast
The difference in densities (blackness) between various regions on a radiograph

High Contrast
Short Scale Black and White (Few shades of gray) Best for caries detection

Low Contrast
Long Scale Many shades of gray Best for periapical or periodontal evaluation

Contrast is influenced by:

1. Subject contrast
2. kVp

3. Film contrast

Subject contrast
Results from varying object densities within patient, this is determined by: thickness, density & composition of the subject

Affects energy (penetrating ability) of x-rays.








Film contrast:
It refers to the characteristics of the film that influence the radiographic contrast, it is incorporated into film by manufacturer.

Film Fog
Film fog makes the whole film darker, making it harder to see the density differences (contrast)


Image Quality
Image quality is determined by its sharpness & magnification. The more the sharpness & the more the extent of magnification, the better the quality of image.

I )Sharpness
Measures how well the details (boundaries/edges) of an object are reproduced on a radiograph. The fuzzy unclear area that surround the image is termed penumbra.

(pene=almost + umbra= shadow)

Def.: Zone of unsharpness along

the edge of images in a radiograph

The larger the penumbra, the less

sharp the image will be

Target (focal spot)


(complete shadow)

Sharpness is influenced by:

1. Focal spot size
2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Sourceobject (teeth) distance Object (teeth)-film distance Intensifying screens Film crystal size Motion

Decrease focal spot size, increase sharpness





Increase source-object distance, increase sharpness

Target Teeth Umbra Penumbra


Decrease object-film distance, increase sharpness

Target Teeth Umbra Penumbra

film film

Intensifying screens decrease sharpness

Film crystal size

The faster film contain larger crystal size that produce less image sharpness, and vice versa. Lack of sharpness occurs because the large crystals dont produce object outline.

Patient motion decreases sharpness

Increase in size Magnification affected by: Source-object distance Object-film distance

Increase source-object distance, decrease magnification

Target 16

Target 8

Decrease object-film distance, decrease magnification

Target 16

Distortion or Blurring
Change in the true shape or size of the object

Blurring is affected by:

1. Film-teeth relationship

2. Beam alignment


Bisecting angle

The speed of a film represents the amount of radiation required to produce a radiograph of acceptable density. The higher the speed, the less radiation needed to properly expose the film. Higher speed films have larger silver halide crystals; the larger crystals cover more area and are more likely to interact with the x-rays. F-speed film (Insight) has the highest speed of intraoral films. An F-speed film requires 60% less radiation than a D-speed film.

Ideal Radiograph
An ideal radiograph possesses the following: 1. Image is of the same size as the object.

2. Image shape is the same as the


3. Image has good detail

4. Image has good density and contrast

Mandibular molar periapical film comes closest to satisfying properties of an ideal radiograph (either paralleling or bisecting)