Common Problems in Dental Film Processing and Development

Problem Causes
Light Radiographs (i) Processing errors

  •  Under development (temperature too low, time too short) 
  •  Depleted developer solution 
  •  Excessive fixation 
ii)  Under Exposure

  •  Insufficient milliamperaqe 
  •  Insufficient kVp 
  •  Insufficient time 
  •  Film source distance too great 
  •  Film packet reversed in mouth 
Dark Radiographs i) Processing errors

  • Over development (temperature too high, time too long) 
  • Accidental exposure to light 
  • Improper safe lighting 
  • Developer concentration too high 
ii) Over exposure 

  • Excessive milliamperage 
  •  Excessive kVp 
  •  Excessive time 
  •  Film source distance too short 
Insufficient Contrast
  • Under development 
  • Under exposure 
  • Excessive kVp 
  • Excessive film fog 
Film Fog
  • Improper safe lighting 
  • Light leaks 
  • Over development 
  • Contaminated solutions 
  • Deteriorated film

Problem Causes
Dark Spots or Lines
  • Film contaminated with developer before processing 
  • Film in contact with tank or another film during fixation 
  • Static discharge to film before processing (dark lines with tree like image) 
  • Excessive roller pressure during processing 
  • Finger print contamination 
  • Excessive bending of film 
Light Spots
  • Film contaminated with fixer before processing 
  • Film in contact with tank or another film during development 
  • Excessive bending of film
Yellow or Brown Stains
  • Depleted developer 
  • Depleted fixer 
  • Insufficient washing 
  • Contaminated solutions 
  • Movement of patient 
  • Movement of X-ray tube head 
  • Double exposure 
Partial Images
  • Top of film not immersed in developing solution 
  • Misalignment of X-ray tube head (cone cut) 
Emulsion Peel
  • Abrasion of image during processing 
  • Excessive time in wash water