When you enter the dentist’s office for your biannual cleaning, the first thing they do is usher you to the dental X-ray area to take images of your entire mouth. You don’t think twice, since this is typically considered an essential part of evaluating your oral health. However, pets are not so fortunate, and not every veterinary practice offers full-mouth dental X-rays. Here at Animal Dental Clinic, we wholeheartedly believe in the diagnostic power of dental X-rays for all our furry patients.
Without the benefit of dental X-rays, we may not discover all your pet’s periodontal problems that skulk below the surface. Remember, as much as 60% of each tooth lies beneath the gumline, so there is ample opportunity for disease, infection, or injury. Here are five of the most common periodontal issues we can detect in your pet with full-mouth dental X-rays and a thorough oral exam while they are anesthetized.
#1: Resorptive lesions
A common feline dental condition, resorptive lesions can also crop up in dogs. These painful erosions in the enamel are frequently discovered during dental X-rays, a thorough oral exam, or through a “chatter” test. Cats in particular display an impressive chatter response when a resorptive lesion is probed, since the sensitive pulp is exposed. Although many resorptive lesions appear as pink areas on the tooth, some lesions affect the tooth below the gumline, making detection difficult without X-rays.
#2: Tooth abscesses
Without regular preventive care to keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy, they may suffer from a bacteria-laden tooth-root abscess. As tartar accumulates on your furry pal’s teeth, the bacteria lurking in this tough substance infiltrate the oral cavity, slipping below the gumline and attacking the tooth roots. An infection pocket can form, causing a painful abscess that may also harm the surrounding jawbone, tooth roots, and gum tissue. If the infection has invaded the jawbone, treatment may be more difficult, since bony infections are more challenging. With dental X-rays, we can assess the severity of the abscess and the surrounding infection, allowing us to prescribe the appropriate antibiotics.
#3: Fractured teeth
Pets are excellent at hiding pain, including when they are suffering from a broken tooth. You may think a fractured tooth would be obvious, but your pet may shear off the tooth crown, leaving behind the roots, and allowing gum tissue to grow over the injury, yet never complain with as much as a whimper. Without dental X-rays, we may never discover the broken tooth and lingering roots, which could serve as a source of infection.
A slice of a pet’s tooth cracking and breaking off, called a slab fracture, is a common tooth fracture in pets, known for occurring on the large fourth premolar of the maxilla, and tending to develop because of heavy chewing. Dental X-rays are a vital part of detecting the extent of a slab fracture’s damage to one of these large teeth, allowing us to proceed with the proper treatment plan.
#4: Persistent deciduous teeth
When a pet’s adult teeth grow in, they typically push the baby teeth out of the way as the first set of tooth roots resorb. However, some teeth are stubborn, and your pet may suffer from persistent deciduous teeth (i.e., baby teeth that have not fallen out after the adult teeth have grown in). If a deciduous tooth is slow to fall out, we will take dental X-rays prior to extraction to check the root status. Roots that are not resorbing naturally will require extraction of the deciduous tooth, to allow the adult tooth to grow in correctly. With dental X-rays, we can check for any embedded or impacted adult teeth that may be struggling to emerge because of the persistent deciduous teeth.
#6: Oral tumors
Unfortunately, oral tumors are relatively common in cats and dogs, and these masses can attack the gum tissue, teeth, soft and hard palates, and jawbone. Some oral cancers are highly aggressive, ripping through gum and bone, while others may be slow-growing and easier to combat. If we detect an oral mass in your pet, we will recommend a biopsy to diagnose the cause, in addition to full-mouth dental X-rays, which will show any bone changes, and highlight the full extent of the tumor’s damage, thus allowing us to create the best treatment plan for your beloved companion.
Are you wondering if the cause of your furry pal’s bad breath is lurking below the gumline? Let us take full-mouth dental X-rays at Animal Dental Clinic, to discover the root of your pet’s periodontal problem. Call us to schedule an appointment.