Our latest ‘New Toy’ is a dental X-ray unit.
How to Discover the Wonders of the Underworld!
Trim is a handsome 4 year old domestic short haired cat. At his vaccination, it was noted that his gums were slightly inflamed and that a small amount of calculus had accumulated on his molar teeth.
At the end of each day, the typical fuzziness that we can feel on our teeth is called plaque. Plaque is a build up of food material, saliva and proteins. Over time, the plaque layer can become thicker. In us, this occurs if we fail to brush our teeth properly. In our pets, it’s normally a consequence of not chewing well or a diet that fails to encourage chewing. In some cases, it may be related to the shape of the mouth or the arrangement of the teeth. Thickened, calcified plaque is called calculus. This can form at the tooth gum margin and eventually cause the loss of teeth because of gum recession.
Unfortunately what is visible on the surface may not be the whole story. Just like an iceberg, a large part of every tooth lies below the surface of the gum. Trim’s front teeth were very stable from the outside. The only problem visible were small fractures of the tooth tip. A quick dental x-ray showed this was not the case.
In the picture you can see that the root of the canine (fang) tooth is dissolving. The tooth is stable in the gum but within 6-12 months probably would’ve fallen out or worse, caused Trim’s mouth pain and illness.
Dental x-rays allow us to see what is happening below the surface….the underworld!! This is the very reason why our human dentists always take radiographs of our mouths when we visit. Until recently, dental x-rays were not readily available to our pets except at specialist dentists. Vet HQ has recently purchased a new, state of the art veterinary dental x-ray unit. A hand held camera like unit, allows us to take x-rays of a small area of mouth. The amount of radiation is small and this allows us to see what teeth need to be removed based on the health of the roots.
The other benefit of dental x-rays are that we can also see if any remnant of root remains after a tooth fracture. Because our pets are known to chew all manner of foods, occasionally they can break a tooth without us knowing. Over time, the gum may seal the root in but it may continue to act as a source of infection. The dental x-rays will be able to identify these hidden fragments.
The dental x-rays can be carried out prior to any procedure where an anaesthetic is given. It can let us discover the wonders of the under gum world and allow action to be taken before pain or illness strikes.