UW School of Dentistry


Introduction to Oral Radiology

Johan Aps

2 Credits Per Quarter, 6 Credits Total / Quarters 5, 6, and 7 (Autumn, Winter, and Spring, Second Year)

Course Description

A course using lecture, lab/pre-clinic/clinic, and seminars to teach physical, biological, technical, and diagnostic aspects of oral radiology. Through lectures, laboratories, and seminars, the course emphasizes various radiographic techniques and interpretation as an essential component of gathering information for diagnosis and treatment planning.

Educational Objectives

In this quarter of the course, the student will gain knowledge of the physical and biological aspects of radiation, evaluation of radiographs and radiographic techniques including digital imaging. The objective will be for the student to be able to expose and evaluate intraoral radiographs obtained on a skull and DXTTR phantoms.

In this quarter, the student will gain knowledge about panoramic radiography technique and its use. The objectives will be for the student to be able to (1) carry out full-mouth examinations on patients, (2) evaluate image quality, (3) describe normal radiographic anatomy and its variation, (4) interpret radiographs for diagnosis of dental caries, (5) diagnose periodontal bone loss and dental calculus, (6) evaluate restorations, and (7) diagnose periapical inflammatory changes.

In this quarter, 1) students should have obtained knowledge about cephalometric radiographs and common orthodontic landmarks; 2) students should have obtained knowledge of the paranasal sinuses, their anatomical variations, common associated complications and their radiographic appearances; 3) students should be able to describe pathology and anatomy in the dentomaxillofacial complex, make decisions about which imaging techniques ought to be used, and have knowledge of associated radiation doses and be able to put those into perspective with other sources of ionizing radiation.

Course Outline

Lecture topics include: an introduction to radiology; radiation physics; radiation biology; radiation protection; geometry and principles of projection geometry; intraoral and extraoral techniques; principles of digital radiography; different image receptors; evaluation of radiographs; normal anatomy; quality assurance; infection control; panoramic radiography; occlusal and oblique lateral jaw techniques and anatomy; describing pathology; dental caries; periodontal pathology; periapical pathology; modern imaging modalities including two dimensional digital dental radiography; cone beam computed tomography; magnetic resonance imaging, multislice computed tomography, and ultrasonography; localization techniques; maxillary sinus anatomy and pathology; and psychological aspects and observer variation in radiographic interpretation. Seminar topics include: intraoral and panoramic radiographic technique and review; evaluation and quantification of caries; periodontal disease and periapical inflammatory changes; radiographic reporting; cone beam CT technique and review; pathology of the jaw bones.

Course Expectations

To successfully meet the requirements of this course, the student is expected to attend lectures, seminars, and clinical sessions, and demonstrate her/his understanding of lectures, seminars and clinical exercises through midterm and final examinations for the three quarters.

Effective Winter Quarter 2007, completion of on-line course evaluation is a requirement of this course. Failure to comply will result in an “Incomplete” grade being assigned.

Competencies Addressed

  • UWSOD Competency 1: Examine a patient using contemporary diagnostic methods to evaluate the head and neck region and to reach a diagnosis of the patient’s oral and craniofacial health status.
  • UWSOD Competency 3: Formulate a comprehensive treatment plan based on diagnostic findings, then implement treatment in a safe, properly sequenced and timely manner.
  • UWSOD Competency 5: Recognize the limits of their expertise and seek consultation with other health care providers to facilitate patient care.
  • UWSOD Competency 7: Manage pulpal and periradicular disease.
  • UWSOD Competency 11: Diagnose and manage hard and soft tissue lesions and diseases of the orofacial complex.
  • UWSOD Competency 19: Utilize information-technology resources in contemporary dental practice.
  • UWSOD Competency 22: Utilize critical thinking in assessing technical and scientific information for use in identifying patient needs and treatments.
  • UWSOD Competency 25: Manage a diverse patient population and have the interpersonal and communication skills to function successfully in a multicultural work environment.


  • Oral Radiology: Principles and Interpretations, White and Pharoah, (6th edition)
  • Rinn Manual
  • Course slides

*last updated: 3/4/2015