The guiding concept in radiation protection is the ALARA principle: As Low As Reasonably Achievable. Dental professionals have an ethical obligation to the patient to minimize exposure and maximize the diagnostic result. The dentist is responsible for prescribing radiographs based on the application of selection criteria. The radiographer who carries out the radiographic procedures must implement the recommended safety precautions and utilize optimal imaging, exposure and processing techniques to ensure that quality results are produced without re-exposure to the patient.
A number of past as well as recent studies have documented deficiencies in radiographic procedures that increase exposure to patients. The most common factors that contribute to increased exposure were improper processing, kilovoltage miscalibration, receptor selection, improper exposure settings and round rather than rectangular collimation.28,29,30 The American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology (AAOMR) has published several articles to assist dental practitioners in the assessment of and compliance with recommended practices and safety measures.31,32 The ADA Council on Scientific Affairs published a report which updated the use of dental radiographs.24 These resources can provide the impetus for improving image quality and reducing patient exposure.