Basic Radiation terms and how to remember them


Radiographs are black and white, the black is empty and the white is actual structure, if it is opaque it is white area


 think of lucid and loose, empty space so it is blackness

Alveolar Bone

This is the bone that holds your teeth, think of the A and V of this word representing your top and bottom jaw

Cancellous  Bone

Your Alveolar bone has two types of bone appearances within it. Cancellous is spongy and has holes. If you think of the astro sign for cancers it is a figure that looks like a 9 and a 6 and both 9’s and 6’s have holes in them.

Cortical Bone

The second type of bone in your jaw is cortical which is compact and has less holes. Think of a cork and how compact the material needs to be to fit into a wine bottle and seal the liquid inside.

Lamina Dura

If you think of laminating paper, the plastic is surrounding the paper like a shell. Lamina dura is the white or opaque line that outlines the tooth like a socket. You see it in a radiograph as a white thin line around each tooth.

Periodontal Ligament

Ligaments are not bone and do not show up well in radiographs. This will appear as a empty or black space surrounding the tooth just before the socket. Picture a tooth and then fibers holding it to the socket. The fibers wont show up on the radiograph because they are not dense enough.

Radiograph Appearance Terms

Cervical Burn out

When something very light is next to something very dark, the dark can cast a shadow on the white. If we have a white tooth next to a black empty space, the blackness can overcast the white. This can get confused for a cavity on the tooth but cavities are less uniform in shape than the shadow causing the cervical burnout.

Diffuse Boarder

If you look up the word diffuse, you will notice it means not defined or spread out. When you see a lesion or a structure in a radiograph that has a diffuse boarder, the boarder is not easily defined its foggy and doesn’t have an outline.

Scalloping boarder

If you have a row of scallops (the seafood) and pass your finger lightly over all of them your finger will go up and down over their round shapes. This descriptor means the boarder of a lesion is curved and goes up and down.


A locus is a point or location. A lesion that is unilocular has one lobe or locus. Lesions can have multiple lobes and be multilocular as well.


Go back to cortical bone and how it is compact and well defined. A lesion that is corticated has an opaque or well defined boarder.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s