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

Over the course of three quarters, the student will gain knowledge of the physical and biological aspects of radiation, justification of patient exposure to ionizing radiation, American Dental Association guidelines for the use of radiographs, ways to perform a qualitative evaluation of radiographs, intraoral and extraoral radiographic techniques (periapical radiographs, bitewing radiographs, true and oblique occlusal radiographs, oblique lateral and lateral oblique radiographs, panoramic radiographs, cephalometric radiographs, cone beam computed tomography and multislice computed tomography), digital imaging (solid state and phosphor storage plates), and non-ionizing radiation techniques (magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasonography). In the practical sessions in the clinic, the student will be trained to be able to expose (set the exposure parameters correctly) and evaluate (quality assessment and image interpretation) intraoral radiographs obtained on a skull, a DXTTR phantom, and finally also on real patients. The final objectives of this three quarter long course will be for the student to be able to (1) carry out full-mouth radiographic examinations on patients, (2) evaluate radiographic image quality, (3) interpret and describe normal radiographic anatomy and its variation, (4) interpret radiographs for diagnosis of dental caries, (5) diagnose radiographic periodontal bone loss and dental calculus, (6) evaluate restorations on radiographs, (7) diagnose periapical inflammatory changes, (8) diagnose a variety of pathology in the mandible and the maxilla, and (9) perform and interpret radiographic localization. The students will be evaluated every quarter with a midterm and final exam. These can consist of multiple choice questions and open answers, with or without radiographs associated with the questions.

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: 5/21/2014

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