Dental disease can be equated to an iceberg: what you see on the surface is a fraction of what lies below. Over 60% of a tooth lies underneath the gum-line, and therefore cannot be assessed without the use of dental radiographs (x-rays).
Performing dental cleanings and treatments without the use of dental radiography could be equated to driving blind. It is for this reason that it is a standard part of every dental health examination at McQueen Animal Hospital. Veterinary dental specialists would never even consider performing oral health assessments and treatments without the use of dental x-rays, and this is the same standard that we strive to uphold. Uses for dental x-ray include:
- Missing teeth – detecting unerupted teeth early can prevent severe bone destruction.
- Detection of loss of bone around teeth due to gingivitis and dental disease.
- Examining broken teeth, which can cause dental abscesses, and to help guide treatment.
- Examining discoloured teeth, which is often suggestive of tooth abnormalities.
- Full mouth examination to carefully assess the health of the teeth and surrounding structures.
Aiming to provide the highest quality of service, we offer digital dental radiography, the benefits of which are numerous. Because a digital sensor is much more sensitive to x-ray, the amount of radiation required to produce an image can be reduced by 75 – 90%. With our system, there is no need to develop x-ray film. This means that your pet needs to be under anesthesia for significantly less time, as the image x-ray is available for interpretation within seconds, compared to minutes with traditional film. Further, there is no need for toxic developing chemicals, making us much more environmentally friendly.
Digital dental radiology also increases the ability to accurately make diagnoses and to detect abnormalities. With traditional film, inadequate x-ray settings meant many images may have had to be retaken. With digital, images can be adjusted in brightness, contrast, sharpness, size, and much more.
We are likely to obtain valuable information from dental radiographs from every single patient that recieves them. Below, you will find just a few examples of how dental radiography allowed us to practice better veterinary dental medicine and provide better care to our patients.
Kitty- 5 Year Old Domestic Shorthair
Kitty had a COHAT – a complete oral health assessment and – here at McQueen Animal Hospital. Under anesthesia, a thorough dental examination revealed an oral resorptive lesion on the upper right canine tooth. Feline oral resportive lesions are a common finding in cats, and present as extremely painful conditions whereby the normal tooth structures resorb, or are destroyed, by the body. In cats with at least one clinically visible lesion, over fifty percent will have multiple lesions, often that start underneath the gumline and that can only be detected with dental x-rays. Below are radiographs from one such case.
The image on the left is the pre-extraction x-ray. We noted the complete resorption of all the normal tooth root anatomy. With this information, we were able to confidently say that only the crown (or the part of the tooth that we can see) needed to be extracted. Without the x-ray, we wouldn’t know that there was no root to extract, and the patient would have endured unnecessary and potentially lengthy extraction procedures trying to remove a structure that isn’t there. The image on the right is the post-extraction x-ray, showing complete removal of all remaining tooth structures.