The Importance of Dental Radiography

by Dr. Kate Lawton

Dental disease is one of the most common medical conditions affecting our pets, with over 70% of cats and dogs affected by the age of two.

Left untreated, infection in the mouth can spread to your pet’s heart, kidneys, and liver. It can also be very painful for your pet. We do our best to guide owners into implementing good dental care at home as early as our patients’ first visits, because prevention and early intervention are key.

Sometimes even the best home dental care is not enough, and eventually your pet may benefit from a full dental cleaning, complete with x-rays, ultrasonic and manual scaling to remove stubborn tartar, and, when necessary, tooth extractions.

Dental x-rays have become increasingly important in dentistry, and are becoming the standard of care for all patients undergoing a dental procedure.

Without x-rays, infections of the tooth can easily be missed, as these typically occur at the root tip which we cannot see beneath the gum line. There can also be irregularities within the tooth that could complicate potential extractions, especially weakening of the surrounding bone in small breed dogs.

Cats are notorious for tooth resorption, a condition in which, for unknown causes, the crown of the tooth begins to disintegrate at the gum line. These lesions are known to be painful and the recommendation is to extract the offending tooth. However, in many of these cases, the root has actually started to turn into bone in a process known as ankylosis; depending on whether or not this happens, the technique for extracting the tooth greatly differs. Dental radiographs save the veterinarian frustration and the patient reduced time under anesthesia. X-rays are a critical piece of the puzzle for both identifying and treating dental disease.

At Brentwood Country Animal Hospital we have begun to include full mouth dental radiographs in all of our dental procedures. We believe that this will greatly improve the overall quality of our dentistry and is in the best interest of your pet.

We hope that by better identifying all issues at the time of dentistry, we can remedy your pets’ current problems and work with you on a treatment plan to help prevent future dental maladies.