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Pet Dentals – Why X-Rays Are Needed

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Updated: September 15, 2020


A picture is worth a 1,000 words

Seeing as how it’s National Pet Dental Health month, I wanted to take this opportunity to mention an important and oft-unthought-of aspect of having your pet’s teeth evaluated and cleaned.

I know this isn’t exactly the sexiest of topics, but it really is an important one. I hope you’ll bear with me, I’ll keep it brief. The important aspect I’m speaking of… dental X-rays (more correctly called dental radiographs).

Taking dental radiographs is the only way to know the true health and stability of your pet’s teeth 

Yes, much can be determined by closely evaluating the visible surfaces of your pet’s teeth, and even more by probing around the teeth for signs of gum and bone loss. But, comparable to the situation with icebergs, much more tooth (and information) lay below the surface. And it is only with radiographs that this important additional information can be learned.

Iceberg-xrays.jpgWhat hides below the surface…

Dental abscess
Source: Tieton Drive Animal Clinic

Resorptive lesions
Source: Center For Veterinary Dentistry &
Oral Surgery

Periodontal disease
Source: Dr. Brett Beckman
Missing or unerupted teeth
Source: Apex Dog And Cat Dentistry

These are a few of the more common possibilities of what's below the surface, but there are others.

These dental conditions can be painful for your pet, and can lead to additional problems

Please never underestimate the importance of your pet’s dental and oral health, and never overlook the important role that dental radiography has in helping to achieve and maintain that good health. Be sure to have your veterinarian perform dental radiography during your pet’s next tooth cleaning.

Take a moment to read these articles for additional reasons why it’s important to have your pet’s teeth cleanings done under anesthesia and the questions you can ask to help make anesthesia even safer for your pets.

By the way, you don’t have to go to a board-certified veterinary dentist to get dental X-rays, many general practice veterinary clinics have dental radiography capabilities (many even have the ability to take these images digitally, which is preferable). But if your vet doesn’t have that capability, or if your pet’s dental care needs would benefit from the additional training and expertise of a board-certified veterinary dentist, you can find one here.

Topics: Cat Health, Dog Health, pet dental

Please do not ask emergency or other specific medical questions about your pets in the blog comments. As an online informational resource, Preventive Vet is unable to and does not provide specific medical advice or counseling. A thorough physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinary-patient-client relationship is required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet is having an emergency or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic medical conditions, please contact or visit your veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.

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