Dental radiography is a long-established aspect of modern dentistry, with the first instance of its use dating from 1896, just a year after Wilhelm Röentgen’s discovery of X-rays.
Across the UK, more dental radiographs are taken each year than any other form of X-ray diagnostic image, and the various forms of dental X-ray imaging now available have become indispensable tools in the efficient diagnosis of disease and the effective planning of treatment.1
Dental radiography may take place in dental practices, community facilities or hospitals.
A range of appropriately educated and trained healthcare professionals may refer for, take and report on dental x-rays and maxillofacial (max fax) images.
Diagnostic radiographers learn about dental radiography techniques and maxillofacial imaging during their pre-registration education and training.
Diagnostic radiographers may go on to perform these techniques as part of their post-registration job role in specialist facilities or as part of their core service provision for trauma and Max Fax patients.
Diagnostic radiographers can provide a full range of imaging techniques using plain x-rays, panoramic imaging, cone beam CT, CT, MRI PET scans and ultrasound within the scope of practice for which they have been educated, trained and assessed as competent.
Enhanced and advanced diagnostic radiographer practitioners may deliver more invasive examinations such as interventional sialography.
They may develop their post-registration expertise to report on the resultant examination.
Radiologists2 (doctors who specialise in clinical radiology)may specialise indental and maxillofacial radiology interventional techniques and specialist image reporting.
Dentists, dental nurses, dental hygienists and dental therapists have their scope of practice defined by The General Dental Councils Scope of Practice for Dental Professionals
The College of Radiographers approves education programs for dental nurses who want to train to take x-rays within their scope of practice. A list of approved providers can be can be found here
The Guidance Notes for Dental Practitioners on the Safe Use of X-Ray Equipment 2nd edition provides further information on the scope of practice, standards and legal responsibilities of those supplying dental x-ray services.
1. Guidance Notes for Dental Practitioners on the Safe Use of X-ray Equipment 2nd Edition.
2. The Royal College of Radiologists | Available at: https://www.rcr.ac.uk/ [Accessed May 24, 2021].