Routine dental care helps prevent your pet from experiencing symptoms of serious oral diseases and dental pain. Here, our Lacey vets share facts about dental X-rays in pets, why your pet would need one, how they're performed and processed in our vet lab, and more.
What are dental X-rays for pets?
Dental X-rays help us assess your cat's or dog's dental health and identify any potential issues. This useful diagnostic tool can also help us find dental plaque, most of which is present below the gumline.
The process of performing dental X-rays on pets is fairly similar to that of humans. While dental X-ray machines produce a small amount of radiation when capturing the images, the benefits for your pet's oral and overall health outweigh any risks when X-rays are taken safely by your veterinarian.
These black-and-white images are produced in a veterinary diagnostics lab. The veterinarian will place a sensor and X-ray machine in your pet's mouth to capture the images. The resulting X-rays show the structures inside your pet's mouth, enabling your vet to review them and make a detailed diagnosis.
When would my vet request dental X-rays?
While your vet may recommend dental X-rays for numerous reasons, they are commonly done during your pet's annual dental exam and cleaning. Specifically, dental X-rays can help us gain a greater understanding of:
- Identify Disease Pathology - Clinical oral disease pathology involves the study, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases in the mouth, soft tissues, and jaws. Reviewing X-rays is one way we can diagnose your pet's dental problem so it can be treated correctly.
- Diagnose Oral Infection - When bacteria build up in your cat or dog's mouth, dental X-rays can help diagnose any resulting infections so we can prescribe the correct antibiotics, which are available at our veterinary pharmacy.
- Prepare for Oral Surgery - Before performing oral surgery, your veterinarian will take dental X-rays to evaluate your pet's dental health.
- Diagnosing Tooth Resorption in Cats - Dental X-rays can help us diagnose specific oral health problems, such as tooth resorption in cats.
What can dental X-rays for cats and dogs reveal?
Many pets do not show any signs of pain or discomfort and will continue to eat and function normally even if they are experiencing pain.
High-resolution dental X-rays can help your vet diagnose and monitor many dental conditions that may otherwise go undetected since they develop below the surface of the teeth and gums. Your vet will be able to examine the tooth roots, pulp, crown, and surrounding bones of each of your pet's teeth.
Tooth abscesses, cavities, fractures, and other issues can be spotted using this dental technology. Once your vet diagnoses your pet's specific dental health issue, he or she will develop a treatment plan customized to your four-legged friend's needs. This plan will include any prescription medications your pet may need to alleviate pain and support recovery post-surgery.
Will my pet need to be sedated during dental X-rays?
One difference between dental X-rays for pets and those for humans is the fact that your pet will need to be sedated for the X-ray to be successfully captured. Sedation will help keep your cat or dog still and relaxed during the imaging process so clear images can be produced, and so your pet and the people around them can remain safe.
Your veterinarian will order blood work before anesthesia is administered to make sure they are healthy enough to be sedated and to assess whether there are risks for any complications. Your pet's vitals will also be monitored while they are under sedation, and they will be closely monitored by our veterinary team for any signs of complications.
Once your pet is sedated, your vet will properly position both your pet and the imaging machine so the proper images can be captured.
How should you prepare your pet for an X-ray?
Diagnostic imaging using X-rays is pretty straightforward and requires minimal preparation. Your vet may suggest that you have your pet fast for 8 hours before the anesthesia is administered, and you may need to remove any clothing, leashes, or harnesses that your pet may be wearing.
One of the unfortunate truths about being a pet parent is that your beloved furry friend will be unable to tell you where the pain is originating from. This is where dental X-rays come into play!
Dental X-rays for dogs and cats in Lacey can help your vet gain a better view and understanding of your pet's oral and overall health.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.