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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Radiation-Emitting Products

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ADA / FDA Guide to Patient Selection for Dental Radiographs

ADA / FDA Guide to Patient Selection for Dental Radiographs

The Office of Communication, Education, and Radiation Programs (OCER) in conjunction with the American Dental Association has updated the 1987 FDA publication The Selection of Patients for X-Ray Examinations: Dental Radiographic Examinations. The recommendations in this updated document provide the dentist with a strategy for ordering x-ray examinations for patients seeking treatment while at the same time minimizing radiation exposure. The revised recommendations update information on newer technologies, update the scientific literature and terminology, describe the use of radiographs when assessing various types of patients and discuss the use of protective aprons when taking radiographs.

These revised recommendations were developed to serve as an adjunct to the dentist's professional judgment of how to best use diagnostic imaging for each patient. Radiographs can help the dental practitioner evaluate and definitively diagnose many oral diseases and conditions. However, the dentist must weigh the benefits of taking dental radiographs against the risk of exposing a patient to x-rays, the effects of which accumulate from multiple sources over time. The dentist, knowing the patient's health history and vulnerability to oral disease, is in the best position to make this judgment in the interest of each patient. For this reason, these recommendations are intended to serve as a resource for the practitioner and are not intended to be a standard of care, requirements or regulations.

The documents are available from the links listed below and from the American Dental Association web site.