Dental Radiologist: Salary, Duties and Requirements

Dental radiologists require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and certification requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Dental radiologists start out in general dentistry or surgical dentistry before seeking specialization in radiology. They work with various tools, such as x-rays and MRI machines, to diagnose and treat patients, or to make recommendations to other oral surgeons. The salary for dentists in general could reach nearly $173,000.

Essential Information

Dental radiologists, also known as oral radiologists or oral and maxillofacial radiologists, are dentists who specialize in using various radiographic and digital images to diagnose and treat patients. Dental school graduates must complete a clinical residency in order to become certified oral and maxillofacial radiologists.

Required Education Doctor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Dental Medicine degree, along with 1-year or 2-year residency in oral radiology
Other Requirements All dentists must be licensed; specialty licensure usually required
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 18% for all dentists
Average Salary (2015)* $172,350 for all dentists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary and Outlook for Dental Radiologists

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't provide salary information for dental radiologists specifically, all of these professionals are trained dentists, and the average salary for all dentists was $172,350 as of 2015. The BLS projected a favorable outlook for all dentists for the 2014-2024 decade, with an expected 18% increase in available jobs.

Dental Radiologist Job Duties

Dental radiologists are trained to use diagnostic tools, such as X-rays, CT (computed tomography) scans, MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) and PET (positron emission tomography) scans of the head, neck and jaw areas, to diagnose and treat their patients. They sometimes work in conjunction with dentists to conduct clinical exams to find and evaluate diseases, tumors or conditions, such as TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder). They also might be called upon to refer patients to oral surgeons or to work with those injured in accidents.

As digital imaging becomes more prevalent, dental radiologists likely will need to become proficient with programs that allow X-rays to be digitally uploaded to computers. Also, the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology (AAOMR) reported that, as of 2016, dental radiologists were in high demand as professors in teaching hospitals and dental schools (

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Education and Career Requirements for Dental Radiologists

Aspiring dental radiologists must complete an accredited 4-year dental school program before they can specialize. According to the American Dental Association, candidates may take the state or national board exams and attain licensure only after attaining a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) degree ( Like other dentists, potential dental radiologists should enjoy working with others, be computer literate and possess an astute visual memory and high level of manual dexterity.

Dentists undertake additional clinical studies in oral and maxillofacial radiology for at least two more years. A 2-year certificate program can be taken as a stand-alone program or as part of a 3- to 4-year graduate degree program that prepares graduates for teaching and researching careers. Clinical courses might include diagnostic techniques, special procedures and radiation biology. Continuing education classes in oral and maxillofacial pathology often cover the latest treatment methods.

Once a clinical residency is completed, specialists may take a voluntary certification examination offered by the AAOMR. Some states require additional radiology permits to practice.

Once a dentist has completed their doctorate program, either as a DMD or DDS, and has obtained state licensure to practice, they can continue their education with a specialization in oral and maxillofacial radiology in order to become a dental radiologist. In addition, they can voluntarily complete a board certification examination. These dentists use radiology to identify and diagnose medical ailments of the head, jaw, and neck, such as tumors and illnesses, using scanning and radiographic imaging technology.

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