Dental Emergencies: A Practical Guide

Radiographics. 2019 Oct;39(6):1782-1795. doi: 10.1148/rg.2019190019.


Dental disease is a frequent finding on head and neck images, especially in the context of emergencies, and can be a challenge for radiologists who are inexperienced with findings of dental trauma or disease. Dental abnormalities can be subtle and therefore must be included in the systematic approach to these images. Although dedicated dental images are not acquired in most emergency cases, the teeth are included on many different images of the head and neck, and their initial evaluation seldom requires a specific protocol. The high prevalence of craniofacial trauma, sinus infection, and maxillomandibular procedures, among other conditions, frequently requires interpretation of dental images in daily emergency practice. The imaging findings can be categorized into infection, trauma, and complications of procedures, although sometimes these categories can overlap. Such categories can help the radiologist decide which imaging protocol and dynamic maneuvers should be used and are also useful when reading images and proposing differential diagnoses. Familiarity with the imaging findings of dental emergencies improves the radiologist's diagnostic confidence and role in guiding patient care, avoiding progression to life-threatening conditions, and reducing aesthetic problems, dental loss, and related conditions. Information about the imaging protocols is provided, the relevant anatomy of the teeth and related structures is reviewed, and the key imaging findings of dental emergencies are presented.©RSNA, 2019.

MeSH terms

  • Dental Implants / adverse effects
  • Emergencies
  • Humans
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnostic imaging
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Stomatognathic Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tooth Extraction / adverse effects


  • Dental Implants