Intraoral films: 7 compelling reasons for every dental patient

Intraoral films: 7 compelling reasons for every dental patient

According to industry estimates, less than 10 percent of small animal practices have dental radiograph units and of those, less than 10 percent take intraoral films on every dental case.

That equates to only 1 percent of the dogs and cats placed under general anesthesia for oral assessment, treatment and prevention (oral ATP) visits get the benefit of survey films.

Reasons given for not taking films include client resistance due to radiation exposure and additional fees, difficulty in exposing and processing films, film interpretation and the added anesthetic time. They are all valid reasons but not insurmountable with proper equipment, dedicated dental radiograph unit and digital sensor, training and client education. In an article published in the Journal of Veterinary Research, Dr. FJ Verstraete et al found that significant dental lesions were noted in 70 percent of the cases in dogs and approximately half of the cats studied.

Photo 1a: Dylan
Hopefully after reading these seven additional reasons to take intraoral films, some of the practitioners not taking dental films routinely will change their minds. All of these reasons came from my general practice from pets presented for teeth cleaning.

Reason 1: Dylan, a 7-year-old mixed dog, presented for an oral ATP visit. Physical examination showed a moderate amount of plaque and calculus. The right mandibular fourth premolar slightly overlapped the first molar. Full-mouth survey films revealed significant bone loss between the mesial root of the right mandibular first molar and the distal root of the third premolar.

Treatment consisted of exposing the area via gingival flap, curettage and placement of an osteoconductive material (ConsilĀ® Nutramax) with a guarded prognosis (Photos 1a, 1b and 1c).

Photo 1b: Dylan's right mandibular fourth premolar and first molar.

Photo 1c: Radiograph revealing significant bone loss between the mandibular fourth premolar and first molar.