OBJECTIVES: To perform a survey of private dental offices in Belgium and gain insight in the knowledge and attitude of Belgian dentists towards quality care in radiography and radiation protection. METHODS: A questionnaire was distributed among 700 Belgian dental offices, which were included based on demographic data and the use of intraoral radiographic equipment. RESULTS: The response rate was 71%. Implementation of standards for quality care and radiation protection was suboptimal. In most offices, exposure settings of the intraoral radiation tube were 65 kV/kVp to 70 kV/kVp and 10 mA to 12 mA, with an average exposure time of 0.45 s. No reduction of exposure time was noticed when using faster film types. About one-third of the responders worked with digital image receptors. Aiming devices and rectangular collimation were used in a minority of practices (40% and 6%, respectively). The distance of the dentist to the radiation tube during exposure was on average 2.2 m, although 8% of the dentists assisted in holding the image receptor inside the patient's mouth. One quarter of the dentists were standing behind a wall when taking radiographs. Lead aprons were worn more often by female dentists. Dose estimation revealed that male dentists received a significantly larger effective dose per year than female dentists (8.3 mSv vs 3.2 mSv). CONCLUSIONS: The implementation of standards of quality care for radiography and radiation protection could be improved among Belgian dentists. An elaborate educational programme in dental radiography is a prerequisite. Furthermore, recommendations could help to attain a change in attitude towards the use of ionizing radiation in order to meet European guidelines.