This paper reports the results of a 1980 survey of a 27% simple random sample of all practicing dentists in North Carolina. The objective of the survey was to establish current practice standards regarding panoramic, full-mouth series, and bitewing radiographs. A total of 414 dentists (76.2% of those surveyed) responded. A questionnaire recorded demographic data on the dentists, age-specific prevalence data on the type of radiograph most often done at a patient's initial visit, and prevalence of radiographs based on need as perceived by the dentist and assessed separately for a variety of patient characteristics (age, oral hygiene, caries activity, fluoride treatment, and systemic medical problems). Results of the survey of a subset of 338 dentists in general practice showed the median age to be 40 with a median length of experience of 13 years. At an initial visit, for patients younger than 12, bitewing radiographs only were most commonly taken; for patients older than 12, bitewings plus a panoramic radiograph were taken. Full-mouth series plus bitewings were rarely performed among patients younger than 6 years (2.1% of the time), but were more commonly performed as patients aged (29.0% for patients aged 40 and older). A variety of patient characteristics were considered for their impact on the need for bitewing radiographs on recall. Caries activity was ranked most important by the general dentist, followed by oral hygiene and periodontal activity.
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