Dr Christine Hawke

BSc(Vet) BVSc(Hons) PhD MANZCVS(Veterinary Dentistry)

Dr Christine Hawke, a Dental Veterinarian at Sydney Pet Dentistry, discusses her preferred product in veterinary dentistry: the CR-7 Digital Dental X-Ray Machine by iM3.

“Dentistry is a huge part of small animal practice. As most of the each tooth is buried deep in the jawbone, doing dental surgery without x-rays is really operating in the dark! While dental x-rays seem ‘new’ to many vets, they are quickly being recognised as a critical tool for anyone who offers any dental services for their small animal patients.”

“I first used this system when teaching in dental wet labs with the Australian Veterinary Dental Society. I initially had a Schick DR sensor, as I moved into dental radiology before there were many veterinary-specific options in Australia. While it served me well, once I saw the CR-7 in action, I was blown away by the quality of the images. It also has a range of sensor sizes, making it easy to x-ray anything from a kitten to a Great Dane.”

“I got to play with it at wetlabs when I was teaching. Then as other practices started to install it, I found myself feeling very jealous!Then, I got one for myself.  My other sensor died (DR sensors can be quite fragile).”

 How often you use it?

“Every single day I do dentistry! I would not be able to operate at all without dental x-rays. It is not an option. Simple as that.”

Why do you use it?

“I cannot image doing dental work without it. Doing a dental procedure without the ability to x-ray is like operating with a blindfold on. People often think that x-rays are only necessary for advanced procedures or rare conditions. In fact, everyday diseases like periodontal disease, fractured teeth and feline tooth resorption are impossible to fully assess by just looking at the crowns.”

“While dental film is available, digital is really the way to go, as it is faster (particularly important as our patients are under general anesthesia), and makes the learning curve a lot easier, as you can retake views quickly, and optimize the image easily using the software (so getting the exposure ‘exact’ is not as difficult).”

Why would you want to tell other vets about this product?

“I think it is a really good system. It is easy to use, and gives great images. The range of sensor sizes is a huge bonus over the DR systems, where there is no size 4 (large) sensor available. The software allows you to modify the images to optimize the exposure and contrast. Anyone offering a dental service would greatly benefit from it!”

“Dental x-rays make dentistry easier and more rewarding, as you can diagnose disease, plan extractions and check for retained roots after surgery. The patient gets better treatment, and you can show the images to clients to help them understand the value of the treatment you have performed.”

Practical Surgical Tips from Dr Hawke:

“When extracting teeth, you can save a lot of frustration by using appropriate instruments, especially dental elevators – these should be the correct size for the tooth, and kept sharp. You can minimize the risk of breaking roots by making sure you have straight-line access for your elevators. Get an x-ray to check the shape and direction of the root (as not all roots are the same!), and section multi-rooted teeth in a direction that gives you a nice clear pathway for elevating. Also check the surrounding bone on the x-ray, as diseased bone may be prone to fracture so you may need to adjust your approach.”

“Furthermore, dental x-rays can be a bit tricky to take at first, as the shape of the skull and jaw makes positioning more difficult than with limbs, chests and abdomens. I find it helpful to think of the image as a ‘shadow’ being cast onto the film. Like any new practical skill, if you find you are having trouble getting good images, a short workshop to learn the tricks for taking diagnostic dental x-rays can save you loads of time and frustration.”

Do you have any horror stories that could have been prevented with the use of this product?

“So many horror stories, so little time… I have seen missed diagnoses, extractions gone horribly wrong, infected root tips left behind, and even iatrogenic jaw fractures where dental x-rays would have provided key information to avoid complications.”

“As for one of my own horror stories, several years ago (before I had even heard of dental x-rays) I saw a dog with a draining sinus under his eye. I assumed it was a tooth root abscess from the upper carnassial tooth (as this tooth was loose and infected) and felt very pleased with myself when the tooth came out easily. Unfortunately, the extraction site didn’t heal, and it turned out he had a fibrosarcoma in the maxilla that I missed. We always x-ray these cases now, even if it looks like there is an ‘obvious’ infected tooth. And we see neoplasia presenting this way several times a year.”


Exclusive interview with Dr Christine Hawke by Stephanie Buelna.

If you have specific questions regarding dentistry, Dr Christine Hawke has offered to be available as a contact. Find her through or at +61 408 782 611. We are also honoured to invite Dr Hawke as a presenter at ourPop Up Day Seminar: Dental Radiology. To learn more about the CR-7 Digital X-Ray Machine, check out