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[en] Highlights: • Risk perception of X-ray in Japanese dental students decreased after lectures. • Risk perception of X-rays in Indonesian dental students increased after lectures. • Risk value of nuclear power in Japanese dental students dropped with rising knowledge. • Many dental students thought natural radiation differed from artificial radiation. - Abstract: The purpose of the study was to obtain basic data to identify problems in radiation education in a situation where confidence in nuclear power has fluctuated over time and fear of nuclear power has increased globally due to nuclear power plant disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima. We conducted a questionnaire survey on understanding and risk perception of radiation and atomic power, before and after lectures, for 107 Japanese and 137 Indonesian dental students. Thirty-six phrases were extracted from two supplementary texts about radiation created by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and 30 events commonly used in research on risk perception were used. The students were asked to rate their level of understanding of 36 phrases and risk perception of 30 events. Moreover, the students were asked to answer 6 general questions about radiation. For Japanese students, understanding of radiation increased and risk perception for both nuclear power and X-rays decreased after lectures (p < 0.05). Concerning nuclear power, the risk-value declined as the level of understanding increased (p < 0.01). However, for Indonesian students, who had lectures on only radiation excluding nuclear power in dental radiology, risk perception increased for X-ray after lectures (p < 0.05). This indicates that thought and custom, in the absence of knowledge, are influenced by lectures. In general, it is said that increase in knowledge will lower risk perception, but even if radiation education is imparted, risk perception may rise if the lectures are not understood properly. It was concluded that educators need to incorporate sufficient knowledge in their teachings, and correct thinking, to mitigate the risk of future radiation education giving the opposite of the intended effect.