INTRODUCING DENTAL RADIOGRAPHY…

As a forward-thinking and innovative practice, we always like to keep up with the ever advancing world of veterinary medicine, providing the best level of care to our patients. This is why have recently added to our catalogue of state-of-the art facilities by investing in a dedicated dental radiography unit.

Periodontal disease affects around 80-85% of cats and dogs over the age of 3 years! This means we see a LOT of pets for dental procedures. But why do we need to take x-rays?…

When we visit the dentist, x-rays will always be taken prior to any dental interventions, with many dental practices now using x-rays to assess the mouth at routine examinations. This is because there is a significant portion that is not visible, both within the tooth (the pulp) and below the surface of the gum (root), and so can only be visualised and assessed by means of radiography.

Our patients are no different – dental radiography allows individual teeth and the surrounding bone to be evaluated, providing information about the extent of the disease processes that are otherwise undetected on clinical examination. Without their use, pathology may be missed and adequate treatment may not be possible.

Quite simply, full mouth dental radiographs should in an ideal world, be taken on every dental patient to complement the thorough clinical examination under general anaesthesia, and is considered the “gold standard” approach to veterinary dentistry.

FELINE TOOTH RESORPTION

Feline Tooth Resorption (TR) occurs when cells called odontoclasts destroy the tooth’s surface. This condition affects more than one third of adult domestic cats and is the second most common oral problem seen in cats (after periodontitis), with prevalence increasing with age.

The condition has previously been referred to as Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions (FORL), feline caries, or neck lesions, with the precise aetiology still unclear despite numerous studies, but is almost certainly multifactorial.

Tooth resorption can commence on any part of the root, but ones that are clinically evident (either on examination or by causing clinical signs), are those on the crown or at the gum margin of the tooth. Lesions that commence on the root are not clinically visible and can only be detected radiographically (by x-ray).

Tooth resorption can lead to distinct changes in the root/s of the affected tooth, with ‘Type 2‘ lesions leading to ossification of the root and subsequent bone-dense tissue replacement. Such roots are very difficult to extract, with risk of jaw fracture, and so these teeth should have the crown (visible part of the tooth above the gum-line) amputated, with the root left in place. ‘Type 1‘ lesions do not have the roots replaced with bone-dense tissue and can be extremely painful for the cat. These types of root must therefore be extracted along with the crown of the tooth.

Once again – such changes are not visible on clinical examination, and can only be diagnosed by taking x-rays. Whilst Tooth Resorption can also occur in dogs, it is much less common. Given the frequency of feline Tooth Resorption, there is justification to advise full mouth x-rays in all cats undergoing dental procedures.

For further information about dental radiography or any concerns regarding your pet’s teeth, please call the surgery on 01325 380111.