Dogs need dental x-rays for the same reason people need dental x-rays: To discover what is hidden from view.

Pets cannot say “Hey Doc it hurts right over here”. Veterinarians must just stumble-upon a pet’s dental disease, sometimes with very little help from the patient. However, it is much easier to stumble-upon a dental disease process if one understands pet dentistry and uses appropriate diagnostic tools such as dental x-rays.

The Dental X-rays and images that follow are from Kiara, an 8 year old Italian Greyhound that had three previous teeth cleanings at other animal hospitals. When his teeth were cleaned and dental x-rays taken at Dunedin Animal Medical Center we discovered some interesting dental disease dating back to when he was a puppy. Maybe this pet would not have had to endure these painful, broken and infected teeth for years if dental x-rays had been taken at any of the previous teeth cleaning.
At Dunedin Animal Medical Center Full-mouth Dental X-rays are included with every teeth cleaning (dental prophy).

Click on each of the images below and read about what we found. You will then be able to easily answer the question Why Does My Dog Need Dental X-rays?


  • 1 & 2 – Calculus that has collected on an old (retained) broken baby tooth.
  • 3 – Dental X-ray after (retained) baby tooth extracted.
  • 4 – Teeth that must be extracted.
  • 5 – Dental X-ray after above teeth extracted.




Why does my dog x-raysDENTAL X-RAYS AND IMAGES – LEFT SIDE

  • 6 & 7 – Broken baby canine (retained) tooth root, not visible with Dental X-rays.
  • 8 – Dental X-ray after (retained) tooth root extracted
  • 9 – Teeth that must be extracted.
  • 10 – Dental X-ray after above teeth (9) extracted
  • 11 – Infection from (retained) baby tooth root. If left untreated, it may have resulted in the loss of this adult canine tooth.

Dentigerous Cyst, Infected Roots & a Loose Tooth

Buster needs teeth cleaningMeet Buster

He came to see us because of a loose tooth.

Just looking at him you would never suspect that he had other dental disease.  He had 6 broken teeth, two dentigerous cysts, two canine teeth with dentin exposure, painful infected tooth roots that were left after the crown fractured and a loose tooth.

An AAHA Accredited Animal Hospital

Being an AAHA Accredited Veterinary Animal Hospital, our commitment is to only provide the best medical care for your pets and our patients. Complete Dental X-rays for every dental patient is an important part of that commitment because over 50% of dental disease will never be found without dental x-rays. Buster is an example where our patient commitment has made a pet’s life much better.

Dog dental cleaningDental procedures begin with a complete oral exam and dental x-rays

Picture # 2, The blue arrow shows gum tissue where a tooth should be. The red arrow points to another area of gum tissue where a tooth is missing. Without radiographs, the area appears to be normal.

Dunedin Dog Dental X-rays# 3 – Dental radiographs of the area in picture # 2, below. The blue arrows outline the tooth inside the cyst that never erupted above the gumline. The small red arrows outline the extent of the dentigerous cyst. The large red arrows show the area in picture # 2 where the tooth was missing. The radiographs reveal the roots of the tooth that was thought to be missing. These roots can be a source of infection and pain if not removed. These two problems would never have been found without dental X-rays.


Extraction of the tooth inside the dentigerous cyst…

Dog with tooth infection, Dunedin animal hospitalIn picture # 4, the blue arrow is now pointing to the dentigerous cyst cavity after we have created an opening. You can see the missing tooth inside the cyst.

Picture #5, the missing tooth now visible inside the cyst. This tooth was extracted to stop the cyst from continuing to expand and damage the jaw bone and affect the surrounding teeth. We also removed the lining of the cyst.



Dental x-rays insure that all tooth roots have been extracted…

# 6 is the post-extraction radiograph showing the tooth and retained roots have been extracted. The small red arrows show where the bone was removed to gain access to the cyst. The small blue arrow shows where the small tooth was extracted. The large red arrows show the tooth roots are no longer present.

dog dental x-rays, Dunedin Animal HospitalRadiograph # 7 is the opposite side of Busters mouth and reveals the exact same problem existed here. The dentigerous cyst was treated, it’s tooth and cyst lining removed and the infected roots were extracted.

Without dental x-rays…

  • The loose tooth, that Buster was originally presented for, would have been extracted and Buster sent home with both dentigerous cysts and 4 infected and painful tooth roots.
  • Thanks to dental x-rays, knowledgeable veterinarians and concerned owners, Buster is now a healthier, happier and pain-free pup!

Dog Dentistry – Why Does My Dog Need Dental X-rays ?

Buster needed dental x-rays to…

  1. Discover that he had two (2) dentigerous cysts that, if left untreated, could have resulted in Buster’s lower jaw fracturing. 
  2. Discover that Buster had 4 tooth roots that were infected and painful. Left undiscovered and untreated this could have resulted in a chronic infection causing organ damage, erosion of bone around the infected roots, loss of other teeth and chronic pain.
  3. Confirm that all tooth roots were completely removed when his dentergous cyst tooth, infected tooth roots and loose tooth were extracted