Dental radiographic examinations are usually employed to investigate some definite complaints of a patient, or as a screening test to detect disease which has not yet manifested itself by physical signs or symptoms. The information gained is used in the planning of treatment for the patient. This study aims to determine the level of awareness of dental radiological examination among patients attending dental treatment at the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) dental clinic in Dar es salaam, Tanzania. The study was a descriptive cross-sectional study, which included all patients who underwent radiological examination at the MUHAS Dental clinic. A specially designed questionnaire was used whereby through interview relevant information on the demographics and level of awareness of the patients regarding X-ray examination was collected. Consent was obtained from each participant and ethical clearance was sought from the Ethical Review Committee of MUHAS. The information gathered was en tered into computer and data was processed and analyzed using version 23 of the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS). Frequency distribution and cross-tabulation were performed and association between variables was assessed by the Chi-square test, whereby the p-value was set at p<0.05. A total of 322 participants were included in the study of which 184 (57.1%) were females and male to female ratio was 1:1.4. The age range of the participants was 18 to 89 years with a mean of 37.2 Â± 15.2 years. There was a statistically significant association (p < 0.05) between self-perceived awareness about dental radiographs and level of education, age and previous experience of the participant. The odds of participants with a high level of education to have awareness about dental X-ray was 2 times more than that of participants with a low level of education [OR 2.58 (95% CI, 1.60-4.19)]. Only 39.4% of the participants reported to have had some information regarding dental X-rays and among them, in 89%, the source was dental personnel. Most (37.9%) said X-ray examination was to help the doctor confirm a diagnosis. Regarding exposing a pregnant woman to dental X-rays, 36% said there was no problem in doing so and among these, 92.7% said there is a need of using special protective gear when a pregnant woman is exposed to dental X-ray. Generally, there was a low awareness of dental X-ray examination in this group of patients. There is a need to disseminate information to the general population on the importance of dental X-ray examination and associated factors.
Keywords: Awareness, dental X-ray examination, Muhimbili, Tanzania