Monday, September 3, 2012

Digital Dental X-Rays For Pets

I need dental care too!
You find your pet rubbing its face, following you around the house which is most unusual behavior, gulping or excessively salivating and you don't see a reason for these behaviors. You find your pet coming to breakfast with a swollen lump under the right eye and does not feel hungry. Your pet eats, but drops the food from its mouth.  How about the bad breath that makes you want to be in another room. Would you just hope for the behavior to go away without treatment?
All these symptoms are clinical signs of dental disease. Not only is treatment necessary, but first a diagnosis needs to be made. Before a diagnosis is made, an examination and dental x-rays need to be taken. 
Digital Dental X-Rays

This article is about digital dental x-rays. I wrote another blog about general dental care which can be found in the collection of blogs available. That blog was published 6/22/2011 and entitled Dental Care For Your Pets
Dental x-rays are the most vital tool in veterinary dentistry.  They are essential in most cases to make an accurate diagnosis.  The diagnosis is the basis deciding how to treat your pet.  Dental radiographs are essential in performing dental procedures, in evaluating procedural success and in documentation of dental and oral health.

It is virtually impossible to practice veterinary dentistry without dental radiographs!
Please check off the box asking for dental films when you admit your pet for an annual dental cleaning to the hospital. They are in and out usually in the same day. We provide a comprehensive oral health evaluation for your pet when the teeth are cleaned.  Dental x-rays with periodontal probing help with the assessment.  It makes no sense to place an animal under anesthesia to clean teeth and miss an important problem.  If you don't look (take x-rays), you most likely will not find problems that need attention.
One molar root is sitting in an abscess.
The tooth looks 100% normal in the mouth.
Did you know that two thirds of our dog's and cat's teeth are under the gums and are not visable?  Dental radiographs help in the evaluation.  They allow assessment of the teeth and the surrounding soft tissues, the joints and bone.  Dental radiographs can reveal under the gum foreign objects, cysts and tumors. Without the help of dental x-rays, 75% of problems could be missed.
Ok, maybe I convinced you dental x-rays are somewhat necessary. Then why digital dental x-rays?

Advantage Of Digital X-Rays
  • Digital radiography in pet dentistry provides the veterinarian with the ability to store images on a computer. This provides two primary advantages over film X-rays:
  • Digital X-rays can be viewed as full-screen images that can be enhanced and zoomed in on, aiding diagnostics and treatment.
  • Digital technology allows our clinic to communicate images electronically for simpler referrals, record storing, and sharing.
  • Digital x-rays are quicker, easier, and safer: Digital X-ray technology is in the best interest of our patients.
 The Sensor 

Intraoral radiographs are made using a small  digital sensor placed inside the patient’s mouth, and provide superior quality for examination of individual teeth or sections of the jaws compared with standard-sized veterinary radiographs. Because veterinary patients will not cooperate when a sensor is placed in the mouth, taking dental radiographs requires that the patient be anesthetized or sedated.

Resorptive lesions in a cat

Digital dental x-rays show us  root infections, bone loss and tumors that we might not be able to determine just by looking at and probing the teeth. Without digital dental x-rays, infected teeth may be left in the mouth, even after a thorough dental treatment!  Cats develop painful resorptive dental lesions, similar to cavities, below the gum line.  The only treatment for this condition is extraction of the painful tooth.  If we can’t see the lesion, don’t know it’s there, because we haven’t taken radiographs, we could leave our patients in pain!

This tooth tip fracture has an infected root.

Dental x-rays also tell us when we DON’T have to pull a tooth.  Tooth tip fractures are common.  If the pulp cavity of the tooth is exposed, the tooth should be either capped or extracted.  If the pulp cavity is not affected, the tooth can stay in place and just be “watched”. 

Digital xrays are an esstential tool in evaluating the mouth and all the dynamics involved with disease.

  The Providence Veterinary Hospital Blog is a publication of Peter Herman, VMD, at the Providence Veterinary Hospital, 2400 Providence Ave. in Chester, PA. Contact Dr. Herman at 610-872-4000 or visit us at