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History of dental radiography: Evolution of 2D and 3D imaging modalities

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Dental radiography is one of the most frequently performed type of medical imaging. The teeth and associated structures form a unique anatomical complex, being in direct contact with an extensive intra-oral microbiome as well as outside agents. Oral pathology covers a wide array of diseases and trauma to the teeth, gums, jaw bones, and associated structures such as salivary glands and temporomandibular joint. Dentistry has evolved into a highly specialized profession, comprising general practitioners, orthodontists, periodontists, prosthodontists, endodontists, oral & maxillofacial surgeons, pediatric dentists, and others. Furthermore, in many countries, oral radiology is recognized as a specialty, acknowledging the need for adequate training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment planning of the wide array of oral diseases. Nowadays, several dental radiographic techniques are used in practice to complement the clinical examination, with the most frequent modalities being unique to this profession (i.e. intra-oral and panoramic radiography). Considering the high diagnostic efficacy of dental radiographs, it is to no surprise that they were among the first X-ray images obtained of humans, and that this occurred mere days after Röntgen’s report regarding his discovery. Whereas the first recorded dental radiograph was not considered to be of diagnostic image quality, and required an exposure time of 25 min, it took only a few weeks until images with demonstrable diagnostic benefit were produced. After the initial hype of medical X-ray application had passed, it took several years before radiography became an integral part of dental practice. When it did, however, rapid improvements were made to each aspect of the radiographic imaging chain, and new techniques were developed to address specific practical or diagnostic challenges in dentistry. This review covers the history of dental radiography, and the evolution of 2D and 3D imaging modalities used in dentistry throughout the past 125 years.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMedical Physics International
Pages (from-to)235-277
Number of pages43
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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