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The Benefits of Dental Radiographs for Pets

Many tooth conditions can be missed without dental X- rays. High resolution digital dental radiographs show the tooth pulp, roots, crown and surrounding bone of each tooth with dramatic clarity. This information helps the veterinarian uncover hidden conditions such as tooth abscesses, cavities and fractures which can cause pain in your pet.

Often the owner is not aware of the problem since most animals continue to eat.

The Advantages of Digital Dental Radiographs

In the image on the left you can see tartar and plaque covering the base of the tooth, hiding potential problems.

In the x-ray image on the right, the yellow arrows outline an area where we can clearly see that all of the jaw bone and associated gum line have receded from the root of the tooth, leaving it exposed to disease and pain.

Teeth with tartar and plaque and an x-ray image of teeth with arrows

In some patients, the teeth can be so affected that the crown can actually break away leaving exposed roots (Figure 1). There is pain from the tooth disease, the fracture of the tooth, and then the exposed root fragment. There can be remodelling over time (Figure 2), as long as the infection is under control.

X-ray images of a fractured tooth with a root still intact and remodelled roots of a tooth

Digital dental radiographs clearly identify these situations and are essential in helping to plan for the ideal treatment for your pet.

Root Lesions

These are examples of typical root lesions found in cats. Note that these teeth appeared perfectly normal on physical exam. At our hospital, we recommend full mouth dental radiographs for all cats because of this. Most pets that are over 6 years of age have some form of dental disease. It is instinctive for pets not to show pain; therefore a thorough examination is required.

X-ray image with arrows pointing at root lesions in a cat

Before and After

Compare the image on the left, a dental radiograph, with the image on the right, an actual photograph of the same tooth after extraction. Note that the tooth was cut in half to facilitate easier extraction. This is a great example of the fine detail that can be obtained with dental radiography.

A dental radiograph and actual photograph of the same tooth after extraction

Now, take a look at the picture below:

A tooth intact in the mandible prior to extraction

It is a photograph of the same tooth, still intact in the mandible, prior to extraction. Note that visually, above the gum line, there are no abnormalities, and the tooth would otherwise appear to be vital. It is a great display of the importance of dental radiography, as left untreated, this was a very painful tooth.

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The Advantages of Digital X-ray

Digital radiography has revolutionized diagnostic capabilities, offering higher contrast images with significantly less x-ray exposure for both patients and staff. This technology reduces the need for retakes due to incorrect settings, as images can be digitally manipulated, further minimizing radiation exposure. Additionally, digital radiography is much more environmentally friendly, eliminating the need for film and harmful chemicals, thereby reducing medical waste and environmental impact.

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