Aim To compare the use of periapical radiographs and digital panoramic images displayed on monitor and glossy paper in the assessment of the periapical status of the teeth using the periapical index (PAI).
Methodology A total of 86 subjects were examined. All participants underwent a full-mouth radiographic survey (14 periapical radiographs) and a panoramic radiography. The periapical status, using the PAI score, of all appraised teeth was assessed.
Results Periapical radiographs allowed the assessment of the periapical status of 87% of teeth using the PAI. On the contrary, digital radiography had a significantly reduced potential to allow assessment of the periapical status (P < 0.01). Only 57.6% and 34.1% of teeth could be appraised using digital panoramic images displayed on monitor and glossy paper respectively (P < 0.01). The total percentage of teeth with periapical pathosis was five fold higher when assessed with digital panoramic images displayed on glossy paper compared with periapical radiographs (P < 0.01).
Conclusions Teeth were best viewed on periapical radiographs except maxillary second and third molars, which were better viewed in orthopantomograms. Orthopantomograms on screen were scorable more often than when on printed images. Apical periodontitis was scored more often on paper than on screen, and more often on screen than in periapical radiographs.