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Special Issues
November 2015
Volume 11, Issue 4

ScanX and Direct Sensors: A Smart Hybrid Solution

Why you should make the switch to digital radiography

Gregori M. Kurtzman, DDS

Dentistry is rapidly moving to the digital world. In 2005, my automatic film processor failed and it was a significant expense to purchase a new one. I decided to step forward into digital radiography. At the time, I chose to go with a hard sensor system as it offered the advantage of being seamless with my practice software. I immediately felt the advantages of digital radiographs. Images appeared on a monitor in the operatory and, depending on the monitor size, went from a size 2 film measuring 1.25 inches by 1.62 inches (31 mm by 41 mm) to roughly 9 inches by 12 inches on my laptop or much larger on my wall monitor.

Additionally, the ability to enlarge, highlight, and colorize radiographic images improved the diagnostic process and my abilities to develop better treatment plans. Image quality also was not dependent on how old the developer and fixer were or how long it ran through the processor unit, so consistent, high-quality radiographic images became a daily routine.

There are some limitations with hard sensors. Problems arose with patients who had gagging issues. As the sensors are thicker than film, they tend to be difficult for some patients to resist gagging. Additionally, rigid sensors mean patients with shallow palates or mandibular tori pose issues when one attempts to capture a tooth’s apex. In pediatric patients, thinner, flexible plates are easier to use.

I added Air Techniques ScanX PSP (Photo Stimulable Phosphor) plate system (Figure 1 and Figure 2) to my practice to augment my hard sensors. Unlike hard sensors, the PSP plates are the same size as film, allowing me to capture an image to the edges of the plate, thus providing me with 17% to 38% more image area. Hard sensors can’t capture an image to its edges, meaning that we have to take more images to view the desired area mesial-distally. PSP plates are equal to film in capture area—size 2 plate is the same as a size 2 film. The flexible plates allow us to work around anatomy better, curving to conform to those shallow palates and around those tori to better capture the tooth’s apical area. Patients indicated the plates were more comfortable, even those with gagging issues, which made it easier for everyone to take the necessary radiographs.

The ScanX processing unit gives us an image within 5 seconds of placing the PSP plate into the scanner. The workflow is not changed much and we get radiographs in close to the same time as hard sensors. It saves time because of the lack of film processing while maintaining high-quality imaging.

Another advantage to a PSP system is ongoing costs. Over time, hard sensors and PSP plates will get damaged. Replacement PSP plates cost less than $40 each, whereas a hard sensor can cost $3,000 or more on a replacement plan, or more than $7,000 without a plan.

After using technology for some time, one has to ask, “Would I do it again knowing what I know now?” I can answer “yes” without hesitation. Adding the ScanX PSP system to my hard sensors has been a great practice decision. Based upon my experience and the results, I would definitely recommend incorporating a ScanX PSP system into your practice.

About the Author

Gregori M. Kurtzman, DDS, is a general dentist practicing in Silver Spring, Maryland. He has lectured globally on various dental clinical topics and has published over 450 articles, being recognized as one of the top dental lecturers since 2006. Dr. Kurtzman can be contacted at

Reasons to Buy ScanX PSP Plate System

High Quality

Consistent, printable or emailable, high-quality images when compared to film

Patient Comfort

More comfortable than hard sensors and more adaptable to patients’ anatomy (especially for gaggers, tori issues, pediatric patients, etc.)

Capture Area and Speed

17% to 38% greater capture area than hard sensors (depending upon the plate size) and rapid image viewing 5 seconds after placing the PSP plate into the unit


Lower ongoing costs when sensors need replacing compared to hard sensors

Air Techniques

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