Pet Dental Radiography Facts

Dentals are really not simple teeth cleanings. It is a dental prophy and assessment which is essentially teeth cleaning to prevent more disease and an assessment of the gums (more important) for the purpose of diagnosis and treatment. Dental radiology is the most important of the diagnostic tools for the assessment phase of the dental.

Statistically, 70% of cats and 80% of dogs have some degree of Periodontal Disease. Other assessments include dental charting and gum pocket measuring. Periodontal disease is very hard to cure once it is established. Since dental X-rays are the best way to find lesions under the gums, they are used very often in dental treatment. The AVDC recommended a standard of care that’s full of mouth x-rays on every patient to detect mouth and teeth problems.

Study at UC Davis showed that 28% of dental lesions in dogs and 42% in cats are missed on oral visual exam only.  If a patient was brought into the hospital with symptoms consisting of weight loss, vomiting, drinking a lot of water and urinating a lot, we would call for a blood test to find the cause because this would be the first test for those symptoms. If there were no blood machines for bloodwork testing, this would make treating the patient effectively very difficult. Blood analysis machines are standard equipment in most practices. Dental radiology is just as important to the dental service.

Pet Digital X-Ray Setup & Equipment

A digital x-ray setup includes digital software, sensor, an x-ray generator and a laptop. Digital equipment speeds up the process considerably, is more efficient and cost-effective for the practice but it is not inexpensive to buy. Dr. Metzger bought a new setup last year as the digital radiography units get better all the time. Like a lot of things, x-ray unit improvements happen more and more quickly now.

The radiographs take time and expertise to assess. You also must be able to position the pet so that the x-ray itself can be taken in the best way. This is another reason why anesthesia is necessary.

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