Use of radiographs

Refer to Section 2 of the full guidance

  • If radiographs are indicated, take horizontal bitewing radiographs or intra-oral periapical views using the long cone paralleling technique.
  • Consider taking a good quality, low dose panoramic radiograph if large numbers of intra-oral periapical radiographs are required.
  • Ensure that all radiographs are assessed and the results recorded in the patient’s clinical notes.

The main purpose of radiographic examination in periodontology is to provide information for diagnosis and treatment planning.

Radiographs allow the practitioner to:

  • assess the level of alveolar bone
  • view the periodontal ligament space and periapical region
  • identify sub-gingival calculus and defective restorations

Radiographs are also useful in assessing the root length and morphology and the remaining bone support of periodontally involved teeth, including assessment of furcation involvement of molar teeth.

As with all radiographic examinations, radiographs taken for the purpose of assessing periodontal disease must be clinically justified (with the information required unable to be obtained by other lower-risk methods), must follow a full clinical examination and must provide clearly defined benefits to the patient.

In some cases, the clinical examination alone is sufficient for diagnosis and treatment planning, and existing radiographs, including those taken for caries assessment, can often provide sufficient information on the alveolar bone level such that further radiographs are not required.