A. Sponsorship

Sponsorship must be an entity that assumes primary responsibility for the planning and conduct of competency-based didactic and clinical training in dental radiography.

1. This responsibility must include: Defining the curriculum in terms of program goals, instructional objectives, learning experiences designed to achieve goals and objectives, and evaluation procedures to assess attainment of goals and objectives; coordinating classroom teaching and supervised clinical experiences; appointing faculty; receiving and processing applications for admission; and granting documents of successful completion of the program.

2. Dental radiography training may be freestanding (as a continuing education course offered by State dental/dental auxiliary societies, or by dental/dental auxiliary education programs); or be a part of an educational program in dental assisting. Such dental assisting education programs may be accredited by an organization recognized by the United States Department of Education; or located in a school accredited by an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education or approved by the State agency responsible for secondary and postsecondary education, or approved by a Federal agency conducting dental assistant education in that Agency.

3. The sponsoring entity and the dental radiography training must be approved by the State entity responsible for approving dental assisting education programs, or the State entity responsible for credentialing dental personnel in radiography.

B. Curriculum

Dental radiography training for dental assistants must provide sufficient content and instructional time to assure competent performance.

1. The dental radiography curriculum content and learning experiences must include the theoretical aspects of the subject as well as practical application of techniques. The theoretical aspects should provide content necessary for dental assistants to understand the critical nature of the radiological procedures they perform and of the judgments they make as related to patient and operator radiation safety.

2. The dental radiography curriculum must include content in seven areas: radiation physics; radiation biology; radiation health, safety, and protection; X-ray films and radiographic film quality; radiographic techniques; darkroom and processing techniques; and film mounting.

Radiation Physics. Curriculum content should include: Historical background; role of radiology in modern dentistry; types of radiation; X-ray production principles; operation of X-ray equipment; properties of X-radiation; and X-radiation units, detection and monitoring devices.

Radiation Biology. Curriculum content should include: interaction of ionizing radiation with cells, tissues, and matter; factors influencing biological response of cells and tissues to ionizing radiation; somatic and genetic effects of radiation exposure; and cumulative effects of X-radiation and latent period.

Radiation Health, Safety, and Protection. Curriculum content should include: sources and types of radiation exposure; public health implications and public concerns; principles of radiological health including collimation and filtration; radiation protection methods in the dental office; necessity for high diagnostic yield with a reduction of X-radiation exposure; and monitoring devices.

X-ray Films and Radiographic Film Quality. Curriculum content should include: X-radiation production and scatter; X-ray beam quality and quantity; factors influencing radiographic density, contrast, definition, and distortion; film characteristics; dosage related to film speed; types of films, cassettes, and screens; and film identification systems.

Radiographic Techniques. Curriculum content should include: imagery geometry; patient positioning; film/film holder positioning; cone positioning and exposure settings for the intraoral paralleling technique, bisecting the angle technique, and techniques for occlusal radiographs; extraoral panoramic techniques; and patient variations that affect the above techniques.

Darkroom and Processing Techniques. Curriculum content should include: Solution chemistry and quality maintenance; darkroom equipment and safe lighting; film processing techniques; automatic film processing; and processing errors.

Film Mounting. Curriculum content should include: anatomical landmarks essential to mounting films; film mounting procedures; and diagnostic quality of radiographs.

3. The curriculum must also include clinical practice assignments.

—Clinical practice assignments must be an integral part of the curriculum so that Dental Assistants have the opportunity to develop competence in making radiographs. The clinical experience may be conducted in the dental office in which the Dental Assistant is employed or is serving an externship. Faculty and/or employing dentist supervision must be provided during a student's radiographic technique experience. Students must demonstrate competence in making diagnostically acceptable radiographs prior to their clinical practice when there is not direct supervision by faculty and/or the employing dentist.

—Dental Assistants must demonstrate knowledge of radiation safety measures before making radiographs, and where possible should demonstrate competence on manikins before making radiographs on patients. Radiographs must be exposed for diagnostic purposes and not solely to demonstrate techniques or obtain experience.

—The clinical experience should provide opportunity to make a variety of radiographs and radiographic surveys, including primary, mixed, and permanent dentitions, as well as edentulous and partially edentulous patients.

C. Student Evaluation

Evaluation procedures must be developed to assess performance and achievement of dental radiography program objectives.

D. Faculty

The dental radiography training must be conducted by faculty who are qualified in the curriculum subject matter.

1. This may include a D.D.S./D.M.D. degree; graduation from an accredited dental assisting or dental hygiene education program with a certificate or an associate or baccalaureate degree; status as a Certified Dental Assistant certified by the Dental Assisting National Board; or recognition as equivalently qualified by the State entity (or Federal agency where appropriate) which approves the educational program in dental radiography.

2. The faculty-to-student ratio must be adequate to achieve the stated objectives of the curriculum.

E. Facilities

Adequate radiographic facilities must be available to permit achievement of the dental radiography training objectives. The design, location, and construction of radiographic facilities must provide optimum protection from X-radiation for patients and operators. Equipment shall meet State and Federal laws related to radiation. Monitoring devices shall be worn by dental personnel. Lead aprons must be placed to protect patients. Safe storage for films must be provided. Darkroom facilities and equipment must be available and of a quality that assures that films will not be damaged or lost.

F. Learning Resources

A wide range of printed materials, instructional aids, and equipment must be available to support instruction. Current specialized reference texts should be provided; and models, replicas, slides, and films which depict current techniques should be available for use in instruction. As appropriate self-instructional materials become available, they should be provided for the student's use.

Note: Educational programs accredited by an organization recognized by the United States Department of Education are considered to have met these standards.

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