Guidelines for Prescribing Radiographs in the Pediatric Patient

Table 1. Guidelines for Prescribing Radiographs in the Pediatric Patient.2,3
Type of Encounter Child Adolescent
Primary Dentition
(prior to eruption of first permanent tooth)
Transitional Dentition
(after eruption of first permanent tooth)
Permanent Dentition
(prior to eruption of third molars)
New Patient
New patient* being evaluated for oral diseases. Individualized radiographic exam consisting of selected periapical/occlusal views and/or posterior bitewings if proximal surfaces cannot be visualized or probed. Patients without evidence of disease and with open proximal contacts may not require a radiographic exam at this time. Individualized radiographic exam consisting of posterior bitewings with panoramic exam or posterior bitewings and selected periapical images. Individualized radiographic exam consisting of posterior bitewings with panoramic exam or posterior bitewings and selected periapical images. A full mouth intraoral radiographic exam is preferred when the patient has clinical evidence of generalized dental disease or a history of extensive dental treatment.
Recall Patient
Recall patient* with clinical caries or increased risk for caries.** Posterior bitewing examination at 6-12 month intervals if proximal surfaces cannot be examined visually or with a probe. Posterior bitewing examination at 6-18 month intervals.
Recall patient* with no clinical caries or increased risk for caries.** Posterior bitewing examination at 12-24 month intervals if proximal surfaces cannot be examined visually or with a probe. Posterior bitewing examination at 18-36 month intervals.
Patient (New and Recall) for monitoring of dentofacial growth and development, and/or assessment of dental/skeletal relationships. Clinical judgment as to need for and type of radiographic images for evaluation and/or monitoring of dentofacial growth and development, or assessment of dental and skeletal relationships. Clinical judgment as to need for and type of radiographic images for evaluation and/or monitoring of dentofacial growth and development, or assessment of dental and skeletal relationships. Panoramic or periapical exam to assess developing third molars.
Patient with other circumstances including but not limited to, proposed or existing implants, pathology, restorative/endodontic needs, treatment periodontal disease and caries remineralization. Clinical judgment as to need for and type of radiographic images for evaluation and/or monitoring in these conditions.
* Clinical situations for which radiographs may be indicated include but are not limited to:
  1. Positive Historical Findings
    1. Previous periodontal or endodontic treatment
    2. History of pain or trauma
    3. Familial history of dental anomalies
    4. Postoperative evaluation of healing
    5. Remineralization monitoring
    6. Presence of implants or evaluation for implant placement
  2. Positive Clinical Signs/Symptoms
    1. Clinical evidence of periodontal disease
    2. Large or deep restorations
    3. Deep carious lesions
    4. Malposed or clinically impacted teeth
    5. Swelling
    6. Evidence of dental/facial trauma
    7. Mobility of teeth
    8. Sinus tract (“fistula”)
    9. Clinically suspected sinus pathology
    10. Growth abnormalities
    11. Oral involvement in known or suspected systemic disease
    12. Positive neurologic findings in the head and neck
    13. Evidence of foreign objects
    14. Pain and/or dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint
    15. Facial asymmetry
    16. Abutment teeth for fixed or removable partial prosthesis
    17. Unexplained bleeding
    18. Unexplained sensitivity of teeth
    19. Unusual eruption, spacing or migration of teeth
    20. Unusual tooth morphology, calcification or color
    21. Unexplained absence of teeth
    22. Clinical erosion
    23. Peri-implantitis
** Factors increasing risk for caries may be assessed using the ADA Caries Risk Assessment forms (0–6 years of age5 and over 6 years of age6).