Many, many people and dental professionals incorrectly use the term x ray when referring to a radiograph. I am quite the nitpick on this and other terminology, which drives my students up the walls from time to time. I’m not sure why or how everyone learned to incorrectly identify a radiograph as an x ray. The difference between the two comes down to definitions of the two words.
An x ray is a photon of energy. This is what is exposing the patient for the final image. This is not the final image and x rays cannot be seen by the naked eye, unless you are Superman. 🙂 (Fun fact: the x in x ray is from the algebraic x for unknown, when Wilhelm Rontgen discovered x rays he labeled it as such assuming down the road someone would discover more about them and correctly identify it as something else than an x ray.)
A radiograph is the resultant image after a patient or object is exposed to x rays.
I realize that many people are set in their ways and will refuse to change their verbiage. That’s fine with me, but be prepared should you say x ray instead of radiograph I will correct you. 😛
Should you care to discuss with me why you choose to say one or the other, I’m always open to hear others comments.