Oral radiology is a specialty of dentistry that focuses on the capture and interpretation of diagnostic imaging of the teeth and mouth. Oral radiologists assist dentists and dental specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of oral conditions.
Although most general dentists use and interpret diagnostic imaging tools such as x-rays in their own practices, specialized tools and knowledge are sometimes needed for more complex cases. Dental radiologists have specialized training in the application of diagnostic imaging tools.
These tools may include traditional or digital imaging tools, such as:
- CT scans (computed tomography) and cone beam CT scans
- MRI scans (magnetic resonance imaging)
- PET scans (positron emission tomography)
- A variety of radiographs (x-rays), including:
- Intra-oral imaging radiographs
- Digital panoramic radiographs
- Cephalometric radiographs
Oral radiologists may also create 3D renderings, 3D reconstruction imaging, or other 3D scans that provide a basis for treatment planning.
Oral radiology is an essential component of dentistry. Oral radiologists are often able to find abnormalities that can’t be seen from a visual or manual inspection of the mouth. These images also allow dentists to see structures below the surfaces of the mouth and face, such as the roots of the teeth and the jaw bone.
In many cases, radiologists play a consultative role. General dentists will call on radiologists for advanced interpretations of diagnostic images or to provide advanced imaging services for their patients in preparation for diagnosis or treatment.
Oral Radiology Training
Oral and maxillofacial radiologists must complete a specialized training program to qualify as a dental specialist in Canada. The program includes medical radiology and radiation sciences, various imaging techniques and how to interpret them, the anatomy of the head and neck, and general pathology of the head and neck.
Oral radiology residents are also trained in patient safety procedures, especially in the cases of imaging and diagnostics testing that includes the use of radiation. In large amounts, radiation can be harmful to the human body. Although dental testing uses very small amounts of radiation, patient safety is still an important consideration.
Oral Radiation and Oral Medicine
Oral radiation is an important component of another dental specialty, oral medicine. Oral medicine is concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of oral diseases and abnormalities. Oral medical practitioners often depend on imaging tools to diagnose the affected areas of the mouth, head, and neck. They may also require ongoing imaging to create and monitor treatment plans.
Find a Dental Specialist in Canada
Dental specialists in Canada can help with the diagnosis and treatment of oral and maxillofacial conditions. If you’re seeking a dental specialist for a diagnosed or undiagnosed condition, find one in the 123Dentist network of dental specialists.