Why Do We Take Pet Dental Radiographs?

Have you ever taken your car to the mechanic for a tune-up or to address a serious issue and they DID NOT look under the hood? Could you imagine a mechanic trying to do his job by only looking at the outside of the vehicle? I’m sure you would agree, any mechanic who does that is not doing their job. They would miss a vital piece to the car’s operation – the motor!!

In the veterinary world, examining pet’s teeth follows the same kind of logic. In the exam room I can see tartar on the teeth, I can count for extra or missing teeth, I can see crown fractures, and even changes to the surrounding gum. But the reality is that 2/3 of the tooth is actually under the gum! That means that my assessment in the exam room is actually missing vital information – what is happening under the gum line?

The good news is that here at Cumberland Veterinary Clinic we have digital dental radiograph. This means that during a dental procedure, we have the ability to take clear and accurate x-rays of all of your pet’s teeth and oral structures. Having all of the information available, we are able to make an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan of your pet’s oral health.

Some of the things dental radiographs are REQUIRED in order to be able to property assess are: staging periodontal disease (assessing bone loss), checking for retained root fragments, resorptive lesions, impacted teeth, assessing non-vital teeth, checking for dental abscess or cysts, examining the surrounding soft tissue and jaw bone, looking for pulp disease, etc.

I was taught a saying in veterinary school that “more is missed for not looking than not knowing.” This certainly rings true when it comes to dental health. The bottom line is this; if you are not having dental radiographs taken during your pet’s oral health procedure, vital information is being missed. It is impossible to make an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan without them. Dental radiographs should be taken on every pet, every time they have a dental procedure performed. If they are not, you have to wonder what is being missed?


by Dr. Mike Bugg