The Importance Of Dental X-rays For Pets

Until quite recently, oral health wasn’t considered a fundamental part of pet care. However, good dental care is just as important for domestic animals as it is for the human members of your family. Failing to regularly brush your pet’s teeth and missing dental veterinary checks can quickly lead to your pet developing a range of problems, including tooth decay and periodontal disease. These conditions can cause your pet discomfort and affect the function of their mouth. Left untreated, dental problems can also have a negative impact on your pet’s wider health.

As responsible pet owners, we all want to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to keep our beloved animals healthy and happy. One of the ways in which we can do that is to take them to regular dental checks with a veterinarian.

If you thought that dental x-rays were just for humans then you thought wrong. During the appointment, your vet will likely ask if they have your permission to undertake x-rays of your pet’s teeth. This may seem unusual, but in fact, dental x-rays are one of the best ways for your veterinarian to determine the condition of your pet’s teeth and gums.

As much as 75% of the tooth’s structure lies beneath the gumline. By undertaking x-rays at every dental check-up, your vet can paint a completely accurate picture of the health of your pet’s teeth and gums including:

- Evaluating the entire structure of each tooth

- Assessing the condition of the jaw joint

- Examining the soft tissue inside the mouth

- Establishing a baseline for the ‘normal’ condition and position of your pet’s teeth

- Diagnosing any dental problems including tooth decay, loose teeth, retained roots and un-erupted teeth

- Identifying serious health problems such as cysts, bone deterioration and mouth cancers early

Typical findings discovered by dental radiographs include:

- Tooth abscesses

- Periodontal disease

- Unerupted teeth

- Resorptive lesions

- Dentigerous cyst

- Abnormal tooth development


Without dental x-rays, it is possible to miss significant oral problems, particularly as our pets are unable to tell us if they are in pain. By catching them early, your veterinarian can arrange the right course of treatment which will:

- Protect your pet from suffering from pain and debilitation as their condition worsens

- Prevent the situation from worsening

- Be less expensive than more extensive treatments that may be required if the problem if not dealt with early

Are dental radiographs safe for my pet?

As with all x-rays, there is minimal radiation exposure when performing a dental radiograph. However, this poses very little risk to your pet.

Will my pet be awake during the x-ray?

As a general rule, you can expect your pet to be anesthetized for the procedure. This is because dental x-rays require the use of metal plates, which are to be held in the mouth during the process. Obviously, most pets cannot hold these plates still and in the right position for the duration of the x-ray. As such, most dental radiographs are carried out while your pet is asleep. This also makes it a much less stressful experience for them.


Dental x-rays are a vital part of keeping your pet healthy and happy. If you have any concerns about the procedure, speak to our veterinarians who will be happy to reassure you