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Preparing Your Space for a Dental X-ray Machine

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Is it time to replace or upgrade your existing dental X-ray machine, or are you building a new general dental or dental specialty office and want to add an X-ray machine? Either way, here are some important things to consider when planning your space and selecting the correct dental X-ray machine to ensure the best (and safest) patient experience.

Size and Layout of the Room

Most panoramic units require a minimum operating space of 4 ft x 4 ft, while most panoramic-cephalometric combinations need 7 ft x 5 ft to fit a patient comfortably. In addition to the spatial requirements, you will also want to think about the layout. Take a look at the dental X-ray machine you are considering. How will it fit into your space? Where are the X-ray controls and buttons? Will they be easily accessible by your clinical team? How will the patient enter the X-ray? Will they enter from the right or the left or will they go straight in? Can patients of any size and shape fit comfortably? What about patients in wheelchairs?

Was there an X-ray in that space before? If the fit was tight, you might consider upgrading to a newer model dental X-ray machine from the same manufacturer to ensure the new machine will work in your space. It should be about the same size and shape with the controls and the patient access area on the same side for an easier transition.

Most dental X-ray machines are mounted to the wall. Because you can’t always count on the wall's studs being in the exact right place, you will likely need some type of wall board or wall backing to secure the X-ray machine to the wall. Other building materials such as concrete may require special considerations, so keep that in mind as well.

The base of the X-ray machine is typically anchored to the floor. If you have expensive or hard to match flooring or carpet in your X-ray room that you want to salvage, try to select a machine with the same footprint as your previous dental X-ray machine, if you can. Otherwise, consult with your contractor on how to manage the flooring space around your X-ray.

Regulatory Considerations

Every state has different regulatory guidelines when installing a dental X-ray machine. Keep in mind that if you are changing out an X-ray and the output changes at all (e.g. different kVp/mA or adding a ceph or 3D component), you may need to obtain additional state approvals, even if you were already approved for the previous machine. You may also need to add lead lining to the walls or glass panels and additional barriers, or make other construction changes to meet radiation safety requirements. Based on state regulations, you may need to add an interlock to a door, add a viewing window or mirror, change the location or type of an exposure switch, or make sure you can hear the unit while it is in use.

When selecting an X-ray unit, keep in mind that some X-ray machines are controlled by a PC so you will need to ensure the PC is located in the appropriate area and that the operator remains at a safe distance (typically 6 feet) from the radiation source during capture.

Electrical and Network Considerations

Dental X-ray machines come in a variety of electrical and network configurations. Determine your current power outlet – is it 110 or 220 volts, and is it dedicated? If you don’t want to change out your electricity, you may want to choose an X-ray machine with the same voltage. Likewise, if you don’t want to re-wire your network, you may want to choose an X-ray machine with a similar network configuration and that works with the same operating system.

Software Considerations

When selecting a dental X-ray machine, it’s easy to overlook the software. But, the X-ray machine you choose and the related software you use can affect your image workflow. Before deciding on an X-ray, talk with the X-ray vendor or dealer about how images are acquired and integrated. Think about how the X-rays will be accessed, where they will be accessed, and for what purpose. Make sure you plan all of this out in advance, as it is difficult to address once the X-ray has been installed and is up and running.

Working with an X-Ray Vendor

A reputable, state-approved X-ray vendor or dealer can help ensure that your space is ready for a new or certified pre-owned X-ray. They can help you select the model that is best for you and your patients, and help your practice navigate through state regulations. They can discuss image workflow and the pros/cons of each model and how the software interacts with each X-ray. Some vendors, like Renew Digital, are manufacturer-neutral, meaning they aren’t limited to selling only certain brands, so they can truly find the dental X-ray machine that is the best fit for your practice setting, staff, and patients. For more information, contact Renew Digital today.

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