Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Dental Hygiene

Committee Director

Ann Bruhn

Committee Member

Lynn Tolle

Committee Member

Norou Diawara


Problem: The purpose of this study was to determine licensed dental hygienists’ current radiation safety practices.

Methods: Data was collected with a 22 item, IRB exempt online survey administered to a sample of 1,500 U.S. dental hygienists who were subscribers of a professional journal. Questions focused on respondents’ use of ADA selection criteria guidelines, policies implemented by their dental practice, and hand-held portable x-ray device use and training. A response rate of 38% (N=566) was obtained. Cross tabulations were obtained using logistic regression and general linear models for significance at a 0.05 level.

Results: A majority of respondents had an associate’s degree (62%), participated in a radiology course for two semesters or less (84%), and were aged 55 and above (41%) with 31 or more years of experience (38%). Dental hygienists were significantly more likely to select the appropriate criteria for determining radiographic need with more years of experience (p=0.0340; SE=0.1093). Dental hygienists with a bachelor’s degree or higher were significantly more likely to use radiographic techniques that reduce radiation exposure than those with an Associate’s degree (p=0.0080; SE=0.0169). Only 57% of respondents who currently use a hand-held portable x-ray device received training prior to use. Respondents were significantly more likely to wear a clinician lead apron when using a hand-held device if they had recently taken dental radiation safety continuing education (CE) courses (p=0.0093; M=1.571; SD=1.222).

Conclusion: Dental hygienists with more years of experience, a higher level of education, and recent CE course work were more likely to follow the ADA selection criteria guidelines and use the appropriate technique to reduce exposure to ionizing radiation.