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Importance of Dog Dental X-rays and Costs

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Dog Dental X-rays

If your dog needs dental x-rays, you may be looking for information about dental x-rays for dogs and their associated costs. If your vet told you that your dog needs dental x-rays, don't underestimate their importance; dental x-rays are different from regular x-rays and they can provide lots of relevant information that would otherwise be unknown. Dental x-rays in dogs are important when evaluating the state of your dog's teeth and preventing complications. Costs for dental x-rays in dogs tend to vary based on location, but rough estimates can be provided.

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Dental X-Rays For Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, a serious gum infection which, left untreated, can manage to progress and destroy the jawbone, affects a wide range of dogs over the age of two. Dental x-rays to diagnose this condition are important because it can happen that some signs of periodontal disease may be missed.

What your vet can see from visually looking at your dog's teeth is just the tip of the iceberg. Consider that dental x-rays allows the vet to visualize the area beneath the gum line where a large percentage (like over 50 percent!) of a dog's teeth structures lie. A dental x-ray can therefore reveal what's happening below the gum line and possibly identify any bone loss which cannot be visualized otherwise.

In small breed dogs, when the jawbone is destroyed by periodontal disease, it can lead to a pathological fracture of the jaw. An x-ray can determine whether the dog's jaw is at risk for a fracture. If small dogs need an extraction, and no x-rays are done, there are risks for the jaw to fracture if there is weakness due to pre-existing jawbone damage.

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Dental X-Rays for Endodontic Disease

Endodontic disease is the infection or inflammation of the pulp of the dog's tooth. X-rays in this case are important so to identify problems.

In some cases, dogs may develop fractures of the crown, and consequent infection of the pulp. In other cases, dogs may have what appear as normal, healthy teeth, but they actually are suffering from infections. This type of infection may require dental x-rays to be detected.

X-rays are therefore ultimately the best way to search for evidence of endodontic problems.

Dental X-Rays for Extractions

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X-rays for extractions provide very important pieces of information. In dogs with retained baby teeth, x-rays help determine whether there are complicating factors which can make extraction more difficult. Failure to recognize these factors, could lead to a fractured root.

X-rays prior to an extraction provide relevant information about any disease or root abnormalities such as curved roots or extra roots or teeth fused to bone (ankylosis), but x-rays after the extraction are also vitally important.

If your vet requests x-rays after your dog's extractions, don't refuse them because of the added cost. These x-rays are important because your vet needs to see if the whole tooth and its roots were successfully extracted or not. Retained roots are very possible and x-rays can help prevent this dog tooth extraction complication.

Dental X-Rays for Tumors

Dental x-rays may also come handy for getting closer to a diagnosis. X-rays may help differentiate a tooth root abscess from a tumor. A tooth root abscess would therefore show more of a "dark" area at the base of the tooth and not as much bone destruction, whereas a tumor would show more of a soft tissue swelling and possible adjacent bone destruction, explains veterinarian Dr. Handy. 

However, the x-ray alone is not diagnostic, a biopsy would be needed to know about the nature of the tumor if present (malignant vs benign).

Dog Dental X-rays Costs

Dog ACTH test costs

Dog ACTH test costs

As seen dental x-rays for dogs provide relevant information about the anatomy of a dog's teeth, their roots, and the bone surrounding the roots. From taking dental x-rays, your vet can therefore check for signs of trouble such as fractured roots, un-erupted teeth, cysts and tumors.

In the field of dog dental x-rays, there are two types of x-rays: intra-oral x-rays which require sedation or anesthesia considering that the dental film must be placed inside the dog's mouth and the dog must stay still, and full-mouth radiographs (FMR) which involve all teeth. The costs for both may vary.

Generally, the cost for dental x-rays in dogs may vary depending on several factors such as the type of x-rays and how many views are needed. Generally, expect for dog dental x-rays to cost anywhere in between $80 and $150. This does not include the price of the sedation/anesthesia and any other needed procedures such as extractions or medications.

References:

  • Dental Radiography Series The Importance Of Dental Radiography May/June 2015 • (Volume 5, Number 3)

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