Oral & Maxillofacial Radiology as a Career

At the end of the summer I was asked what career options there are for those who are interested in oral and maxillofacial radiology (oral radiology for short). So here’s a post of the options as an oral and maxillofacial radiologist being that the 14th anniversary of it being accredited by the ADA was Sunday, October the 13th. You can check out the AAOMR page to learn more about the history in the US.


This is obviously where I spend most of my time. 😀 There are approximately 60 dental schools in the US.  Each school varies on the number of oral radiologists they employ. Some schools have only 1, such as my institution, and some have up to 4 oral radiologists, these tend to be the institutions with oral radiology graduate programs.  And some schools do not have even one oral radiologist.  In an educational setting there is a combination of responsibilities.

Teaching – this is a combination of lecture/didactic teaching and clinical teaching of radiographic technique and interpretation.  Some chose to go with standard lecturing from a podium where others use more interactive teaching such as clicker incorporated lectures.  This is a big area of change for those who chose to embrace it.  Clinical teaching covers radiographic technique how-to, common errors and how to correct those.  Interpretation is just that, interpretation of radiographs both 2D and 3D.

Research – this has a huge range of topics from clinical topics such as incidence/prevelance of radiographic findings such as carotid artery calcifications on pantomographs to radiation biology to radiation doses to CBCT imaging and so on and so on.  I lean towards the use of technology in education (i.e. twitter use in the classroom), creating digital quality assurance and incidence/prevalence of radiographic findings.  This includes publications as well as books (slight shameless plug :P) and book chapters sharing their knowledge.

Clinic Director – this is also an area that I participate (default of being the only oral radiologist at the school :)).  This requires creating and maintaining an ionizing radiation policy for the institution, creating a quality control program to ensure high quality and diagnostic radiographs as well as supervising staff in the clinic.

Private Practice

This is an option I participate in one day a week (an option most educators have).  This entails primarily CBCT interpretations in a couple of ways.  Some have opened up their own office with a CBCT unit and market this to the surrounding communities. Some are associated with much larger corporations who do the marketing for them and assign them cases as they are sent in.  Others contract with offices that have CBCT units and provide interpretations on an as needed case (this is what I do).

This is a short summary of the options for an oral & maxillofacial radiologist. If you have any questions, please leave them below. Thanks and enjoy!

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