The Importance of Dental X-Rays

by admin in Blog

Dental Radiography is the art of taking x-ray images of the teeth. These images (such as the normal x-rays from a cat that are pictured below) are absolutely vital to diagnose and treat various forms of dental disease in our pets. They are how we evaluate the teeth, their roots, and the bones of the jaw, and how they have healed after a procedure. This is what allows us to determine what treatment is necessary.

Did you know that about 70% of a cat or dog’s tooth is under the gumline? Dental x-rays allow us to look at this part of the tooth, allowing us to accurately and successfully treat your pet’s dental disease. We know from looking at the available research that we will find important information that we would have missed otherwise on about a third of the dental x-rays we take! In addition, these images help us to determine the best way to keep your pet’s mouth healthy. In two-thirds of the x-rays we review, we find disease that is actually worse than what we can detect with our eyes, hands and probes. Even when a tooth looks completely healthy, there can be problems brewing under the gumline, and in the bone!

Dental x-rays are taken by placing a sensor, or film, in the mouth of the dog or cat. We place the film in specific locations to take the image of different teeth. The x-ray machine must be carefully lined up so that an accurate image of the tooth is obtained. We see so many different sizes and breeds of patients that each patient needs unique placement of the film and x-ray machine. These images then provide us with clear details of the roots of the teeth without other overlapping structures confusing the diagnosis.

At Aggie Animal Dental Center we use digital x-ray sensors instead of traditional x-ray film. Digital radiography has several advantages, including requiring less radiation to make an image, and producing an image that can be enlarged and manipulated to better diagnose disease. Digital images can also be stored long-term, shared easily, and can be looked at immediately, instead of waiting for several minutes while the film is developed.

In order to obtain these x-ray images, our patients must be under general anesthesia. There are several reasons for this, includingthat they won’t sit still while we very carefully position our digital sensors and x-ray machine to obtain the perfect image. Also, having the sensor in the mouth can be uncomfortable, which may make it almost impossible to obtain an image while our patients are awake.

Dental radiography is a vital part of every patient’s oral examination, and is recommended for every patient being anesthetized for dental evaluation. It is part of the American Animal Hospital Association and American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines to practicing veterinary dentistry. You can be sure that Dr. Lommer or Dr. Fulton will show you your pet’s individual dental x-rays after their procedure, and try to help you understand what we are seeing. We love being able to show you what we find and how we can best care for your pets!

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