analyzed 449 panoramic radiography exams from the database of the Department of Radiology of the Faculty of Dentistry of Piracicaba, UNICAMP, São Paulo, Brazil. After obtaining blood pressure measurements and information on smoking and systemic diseases, the researcher observed on the panoramic radiograph, the presence or absence of the radiopaque mass in the regions of the cervical vertebrae C3-C4. In the case of a suggestive image of atheroma, an anteroposterior radiography was performed to confirm the diagnosis. The Chi-square test of normal distribution for independent and random samples with a 95 % confidence interval was applied to the data. Confirmation of carotid calcifications occurred in 8.5 % of the study population (38 cases). We did not find any relationship between the presence of calcifications with smoking, sex or previous family history. However, 49.1 % of ca- ses occurred above sixty years old and there was a significant relationship with hypertension (P = 0.006). The greatest risk was presented in elderly and hypertensive patients, so we highlight the importance of a thorough observation by the dentist of panoramic radiographs to detect any alteration of the normal anatomy and in the positive case, proceed with the referral as soon as possible for a conclusive diagnosis by a specialist, being able to thus assist in the prevention of severe vascular episodes.
KEY WORDS: Atherosclerosis; Carotid artery; Panoramic radiography; hypertension.