15 September 2009

Q. Is it reasonable to take an extra x-ray just for the record?

Clinicians sometimes feel that in order to protect themselves dento-legally it would be useful to have an x-ray ‘just in case'. This situation might arise after fitting a post crown or a bridge - the objective being to ensure the post angulation was correct or the marginal fit of the bridge was accurate. Orthodontists sometimes take a range of radiographs mid-treatment and again post-operatively to assess the angulation of teeth as well as checking for any root resorption following fixed appliance therapy. Hygienists have been known to take x-rays simply to check they have removed all the subgingival calculus following periodontal therapy.

Radiography is of course an invaluable tool for the clinician, providing information that is impossible to obtain by clinical examination alone. It is important however, when deciding to take a radiograph that a risk to benefit assessment is also made. Every radiograph presents a radiation risk and any exposure of a patient to that risk must be offset against a reasonable clinical benefit. No patient should be exposed to an additional dose of radiation (and the associated risk) as part of a course of dental treatment, unless there is likely to be benefit in terms of improved management for that patient.

Selection Criteria for Dental Radiography Faculty of General Dental Practitioners (UK) 2004 p17

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