Insights into Pet Dentistry #1
Updated: Nov 19, 2018
Dogs and cats teeth are made up of two main sections – the crown (what you see above the gum-line) and the root (beneath the gum-line). Before dental radiographs were commonplace, we never truly knew what was brewing beneath the gums. It is for this reason we perform radiographs during most of our dental procedures.
This dog had a missing tooth and the overlying tissue had healed completely normally. It wasn’t until we performed radiographs that we saw that the top of the tooth had actually broken off, leaving the roots behind. This is likely extremely painful and is a high risk for infections. Knowing this, we were able to remove the roots, and confirm that we had removed them entirely.
The reason broken teeth can lead to infection is because there is a ‘pulp chamber’ in the middle which allows nerves and blood vessels to supply the tooth. If the tooth is broken and this chamber is exposed, this acts as a highway for bugs to reach the bottom of the roots where infection can start. This is what happened in another case shown below. Radiographs were used to see the roots of a broken tooth and the start of two dental abscesses were caught before they would progress further. The tooth was removed, and after a course of antibiotics, this dog was back to her bright and happy self.
Dental radiography (x-rays) is a tool that once you use it once or twice, you never knew how you managed before!