Dental Radiology for Dental Assisting Exam Study Guide (page 4)

Updated on Jun 23, 2011

Patient Management

The dental assistant must not only be properly skilled and trained to produce clinically acceptable radiographs, but also be able to communicate with patients. Patients who are informed and educated are more likely to cooperate and comply.

Pediatric Radiographic

Technique Exposing dental radiographs on children can be challenging. Children have a tendency to move and sometimes gag. Some basic tips include:

  • Explain in simple terms what you are about to do.
  • Show the child the film, the camera, and the film holder, and let him or her touch the film prior to placing it in the child’s mouth.
  • Work quickly and communicate the importance of holding perfectly still so that no retakes will be needed.
  • Use the smallest film that can record the most accurate image. Smaller films mean less gagging.
  • Utilize occlusal films since they induce less gagging and show all teeth in one arch.
  • Praise the child for helping you so much and thank him or her for being such a great helper.

Edentulous Radiographic Technique

Patients with no teeth will need to have radiographs taken to determine bone quality, height, and quantity, and to visualize anatomic structures such as the foramen and the maxillary sinuses and pathologic anomalies. Because of the absence of the teeth, proper film placement is determined by the location of anatomical structures on the face.

Techniques used are the bisecting the angle and paralleling. Cotton rolls can also be used to help hold the film in place.

Endodontic Radiographic Technique

The paralleling technique is the best technique available to obtain an accurate anatomical image. The rubber dam clamp and endodontic files may be in the way and not allow for proper film placement. Using a film holder, the patient may be allowed to hold the film using a Snap-A-Ray or hemostat. The bisecting technique is employed so that the film may be placed parallel to the long axis of the tooth. The X-ray beam is directly perpendicular to the imaginary line that bisects the angle formed by the recording plane of the dental X-ray film and the long axis of the tooth. The tooth being treated should be centered on the film, and 5 mm of bone beyond the apex should be present on the film.

Bisecting the Angle Technique

This technique is used when the paralleling technique cannot be used. In other words, if the film holder cannot be employed, as with edentulous patients, small children, and so on, the bisecting angle technique must be used. The film is placed directly against the teeth to be radiographed. The central beam is directed perpendicular to the line that bisects the angle made by the tooth and the film.

Anatomic Variations

Some patients present the operator with a variety of anatomic variations such as palatal tori, mandibular tori, crowded and/or misaligned teeth, narrow palate, and ankyloglossia (tongue tie). Film placement can be altered to accommodate these variations.

Practice problems for this study guide can be found at:

Dental Radiology for Dental Assisting Exam Practice Problems

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