Your first question is probably, “What the heck is that? Is it a ray gun?” Well, in a way it is! It’s actually a hand-held portable digital dental x-ray unit called NOMAD, and we are thrilled to be able to add it as part of the state-of-the-art equipment we carry on board our mobile veterinary unit.

Dental care is extremely important in our dogs and cats, and an essential component of overall good quality healthcare. Neglected teeth can result in a painful mouth, weight loss, inappetence, and a whole host of widespread diseases in the body.

But good oral hygiene is more than just occasionally brushing your dog’s teeth or sometimes giving a dental chew bone.

Each time we see your dog or cat, we examine the teeth. We’re looking for signs of excessive tartar buildup, inflammation of the gums, loose or painful teeth, signs of infection, as well as tooth alignment and overall tooth health. When we recommend a dental cleaning, there’s a lot more to it than just scaling and polishing. Each tooth is probed and examined looking for any disease that might be present. But there are often things going on above or below the gum line that we can’t see. That’s where NOMAD comes in.

Take a look at the dental xray below. This kitty had suddenly stopped eating. Her physical exam was normal, except she wouldn’t let me get a good look at her mouth, which was clearly bothering her. We performed a dental cleaning under anesthesia (because in order to do it properly, dogs and cats need to be asleep!). Once cleaned, all of the teeth were examined. Outwardly, they appeared to be in good shape. But when Nomad did its job, this is what we found. Take a look at the xray below. What do you see?

Now look at it with the highlighted area:

This kitty had a fractured tooth root that was below the gum line on her jaw, causing her pain, which made her stop eating. We were able to extract the broken tooth, and now she’s running around, eating, and playing like she did when she was a youngster!

As veterinary medicine advances, standards of care change in order to improve the ways we can maintain and preserve our pets’ health. Proper dental care, with regular oral exams and cleanings (with xrays!) is an important part of that process.

Here’s looking at you, kid!