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Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Dental Hygiene








Purpose: The As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) principle was developed to promote awareness and minimization of radiation exposure and is supported by radiation control and professional organizations. The purpose of this study was to determine licensed dental hygienists' current radiation safety practices.

Methods: Data were collected with a 22 item, online survey administered to a convenience sample of 1,500 dental hygienists in the United States. Questions focused on respondents' use of the American Dental Association (ADA) radiographic examination selection guidelines, their individual dental practice policies, and hand-held portable x-ray device use and training. Cross tabulations were obtained using logistic regression and general linear models for significance at a 0.05 level.

Results: A response rate of 38% (n = 566) was obtained. A majority of respondents had an associate's degree (62%), were over the age of 55 (41%), and had over 30 years of experience. Respondents with more years of experience were more likely to follow the ADA selection criteria for radiographic need (p=0.0340; SE=0.1093) and respondents with a bachelor's degree or higher were more likely to use techniques to reduce radiation exposure than those with an associate's degree (p=0.0080; SE=0.0169). Respondents who had recently taken dental radiation safety continuing education courses were significantly more likely to wear a clinician lead apron when using a hand-held x-ray device (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 ADA radiographic examination selection guidelines and use appropriate techniques to reduce exposure to ionizing radiation.


Copyright © 2019 The American Dental Hygienists’ Association

Included with the kind written permission of the publisher.

Original Publication Citation

Lintag, K., Bruhn, A. M., Tolle, S. L., & Diawara, N. (2019). Radiation safety practices of dental hygienists in the United States. Journal of Dental Hygiene, 93(4), 14-23.