Dental Care: How Dental X-Rays Add To A Pet’s Care
It’s no surprise that AVAC is passionate about your pet’s health and happiness when it comes to dental care. We frequently write about the importance of regular dental exams and professional cleanings. This month we are excited to announce the addition of our new, state-of-the-art dental x-ray equipment, providing dental radiographs (x-rays) that offer an improved method of detection and care for your pet.
Spotting teeth that have lots of tarter buildup is easy to see, but detecting hidden problems below the gumline, like an abscess or tooth resorption requires dental x-rays. Since 60% of a pet’s tooth is below the gumline, detection of problems in a timely manner allows for an effective treatment plan.
Resorption, Abscess, and Other Hidden Problems
Dogs and cats are affected by many of the same dental problems including periodontal disease, fractured teeth, and oral growths. Cats are also afflicted with tooth resorption and inflammation. Over 50% of cats aged three years and older have tooth resorption – where the affected tooth will erode and disappear. If the tooth roots are affected, they will be replaced by bone (see x-ray below).
Cats affected by tooth resorption may show signs of excessive drooling, bleeding in the mouth, or difficulty eating. This painful condition is treated by extracting the affected tooth.
Dental x-rays can also detect a tooth abscess (see x-rays below). An abscess is an infection that forms around a tooth. This happens when a tooth breaks if periodontal disease is present. Other dental problems that x-rays can uncover include, impacted teeth, dead teeth, retained root fragments, and oral cancer.
Dental x-rays are part of a comprehensive oral exam each pet receives when they undergo dental care (such as a professional dental cleaning). While the pet is under general anesthesia - a thorough exam is performed, including x-rays. This helps the vet see issues that otherwise could go unseen or untreated through a visual exam only.
Signs of Dental Problems
A common misconception is that pets stop eating if they have dental problems. Actually, pets will keep eating even if they have severe periodontal disease. There are signs that can indicate your pet may be experiencing dental problems and need to see one of our vets for a thorough dental exam. These include:
1. Bad breath
2. Broken tooth/teeth
3. Excessive drooling
4. Chewing with or favoring one side of the mouth
5. Loss of symmetry of the muzzle and/or lower jaw
6. Bleeding from the mouth
7. Pawing at or rubbing the muzzle/mouth
8. Swollen/draining tracts under (or in front of) the eye
9. Sudden change in behavior
10. Chronic eye infections or drainage with no exact cause or cure
11. Inability to open or close the mouth
12. Chronic sneezing
13. Discolored tooth/teeth
14. Abnormal discharge from nose
15. A mass/growth in the mouth
If any of these signs are noticed, schedule your pet for an oral exam with one of our vets.
With today’s advanced dental care, x-rays, and treatment options, pets do not have to suffer the pain and discomfort of oral problems. Making sure your pet has regular comprehensive dental exams, dental care, x-rays, and providing daily plague prevention will help your pet live a healthier, happier life.
To schedule your pet’s appointment, call (205) 967-7383.
Ann Brennan, DVM