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Dental Radiography for Small Animals

In the past, a veterinary dental cleaning appointment involved the standard practice only. Technicians cleaned the plaque and tartar above the gumline. If there were any loose teeth, the technician would also pull them out.


But, modernization has raised the standards and revolutionized dental care. Today, on your visit to the vet, your pet must undergo dental radiology. There can be no comprehensive dental care without referencing a radiograph.


What Is Dental Radiography?


Dental radiography is a noninvasive technique used to image and reveal the structures beneath the gingival line. The imaging makes it easier for the vet to assess the roots and periodontium beneath better.


A Radiograph Is Essential


There are several reasons you might want your cat or dog to undergo a dental radiograph. The first is that without dental radiography, the vet would miss many details regarding the structures beneath the gingival margin.


Second, the structure of the animal’s oral cavity makes it difficult to conduct a proper diagnosis. Small animals have a small oral cavity, which makes viewing gross dental abnormalities difficult. Their gingiva covers nearly the entire tooth surface. The vet is likely to miss some oral pathology.


Third, animals themselves are not aware of the signs of oral pain. Dental problems could go unnoticed for a long time.


Fourth, in case of disease or trauma underneath the gingival margin, the inability to see below the gingival margin would obscure treatment. The vet would not know about the existence and the extent of the problem beneath.


A radiograph is also necessary because, with pets, it’s often difficult to carry out routine preventative measures like brushing their teeth daily. As such, if there’s any disease, it progresses quickly.


Teeth do not shed the old cells, unlike other body tissues, which causes bacteria levels to rise high very quickly. In case the periodontium is compromised by pathology or trauma, pathogens can gain entry into the systemic circulation. The spreading of oral toxins compromises the pet’s circulation by damaging the cardiac valves and renal tubules.


Another reason radiography is critical is that animals cannot describe their discomfort or pain. So, it would take longer to take note of a dental problem.


Overall, without radiographs, the vet would miss many of the oral problems affecting your pets, causing them to live in discomfort for many years.


Common Indications for Dental Radiograph


Anything besides the normal calls for a radiograph. It helps the vet to ensure that he or she is not missing anything. Some of the common reasons to have a dental radiograph include the presence of the following:


  • Oral pain.

  • Fractured teeth.

  • Sensitive, painful teeth.

  • Missing teeth.

  • Abnormal teeth color.

  • Exposure of the dentine or pulp.

  • Gingival recession.

  • Evaluating teeth vitality.

  • Presence of draining tracts on gums.

  • Nasal discharge.

  • Suspected oral masses.

  • Pockets larger than 3mm in dogs and 2mm in cats.

  • Before and after extractions.

  • Suspected periodontitis.

  • Having feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions.


Overall, dental radiography helps to detect oral issues in small animals. An early diagnosis enables treatment to start early so that their health is not compromised. Have your pet’s oral health evaluated using oral radiography at the South Willamette Veterinary Clinic in Creswell, Oregon. You can also call 541-313-3352 to request an appointment.

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