Dental Health

Pet's Have Teeth Too! 

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have oral disease by the age of 3. It is the most frequently diagnosed health problem in pets. Common signs of oral disease include tartar buildup, red and swollen gums, bad breath, changes in eating or chewing habits, pawing at the face and generalized depression.

Annual Dental Exam: A veterinarian should evaluate your pet's dental health at least once per year. We recommend this because bacteria and food debris accumulate around a pet's teeth daily and, if left unchecked, will lead to deterioration of the soft tissue and bone surrounding the teeth. This decay results in irreversible periodontal disease and even tooth loss. Ongoing "Dog Breath" or "Cat Breath" in a pet is not normal! It is a sign there is something needing attention in the pet's body. If your pet has ongoing bad breath, contact your veterinarian for a dental checkup.

If you notice any of the signs noted in pictures II, III or IV, contact your veterinarian right away for a dental checkup.

grade_1.jpg NICE JOB! No sign of plaque or tartar

Home dental care is needed to maintain these healthy teeth and gums. Brushing your pet's teeth regularly is ideal. There are products available to help make home dental care easy and hassle free, such as tooth sealers, rinses and food.

grade_2.jpg Mild Gingivitis-Early Periodontal Disease

Plaque is beginning to cover the teeth. You may notice a thin red line along the gum line.The gum is inflamed and swollen from the bacterial buildup in the beginning stages of dental disease. While the teeth still appear somewhat healthy, the health of the mouth is starting to decline. A Dental Prophylactic cleaning and polishing maybe indicated.

grade_3.jpg Moderate Gingivitis-Established Periodontal Disease

Gums are inflamed and swollen. Mouth is painful and odor is noticed. Gum pockets allow bacteria to flourish. Moderate amounts of plaque have built up. Dental cleaning to remove tartar is needed within the next 30 days. Tartar control diet and home dental care are needed afterward for prevention. Extractions may be needed.

grade_4.jpg Severe Gingivitis-Advanced Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is present; pet has red and bleeding gums. Gums may be damaged by infection and tartar. Pet shows signs of having a sore mouth and bad breath odor is also noted. Dental cleaning to remove tartar is needed immediately. Gum pockets and extractions are expected. Chronic infection is destroying the gum, teeth and bone. Bacteria is spreading through the body via the bloodstream threatening the kidneys, liver and heart. Extractions and suturing could be necessary. Tartar control diet and home dental care are needed to prevent recurrence.

Dental Disease: There are other reasons why you should pay close attention to your pet's dental health. Dental disease can affect other organs in the body: bacteria in the mouth can get into the blood stream and may cause serious kidney infections, liver disease, lung disease and heart valve disease. Oral disease can also indicate that another disease process is occurring elsewhere in the pet's body. A thorough physical exam combined with appropriate laboratory tests can determine if this is the case. If you notice any oral signs noted above, contact your veterinarian for a dental checkup.

What is involved with a dental cleaning? 

By looking at the teeth, a veterinarian or technician can determine if professional cleaning or treatment is necessary. The first step in treating periodontal disease requires cleaning the teeth and surrounding tissues. To effectively clean and polish your pet’s teeth, a safe general anesthetic gas will be used, one that is gentle enough to allow a quick recovery so that your dog or cat can return home the same day of the procedure. This allows a pain-free and stress-free cleaning, polishing, and evaluation of each tooth, as well as whole mouth examination. To prepare anesthesia, your veterinarian will do a thorough examination of your pet, perform blood work and discuss the procedure with you. Your pet will be monitored closely throughout the entire procedure: your pet’s safety is our primary concern. Before cleaning X-rays will be taken of the teeth to check for pathology hiding below the gum line. A veterinarian or skilled veterinary technician uses an ultrasonic scaler to remove all the tarter from each tooth, above and below the gum line. The tartar beneath the gum line causes the most significant gum recession. After cleaning the gums and mouth are lasered to help reduce inflammation and to reduce bacteria that has been disturbed through the dental cleaning process. Then, each tooth is polished smooth, making them more resistant to future tartar accumulation. In severe periodontal cases, one or more teeth may need to be extracted. Most of the time these teeth are already extremely loose and causing your pet pain. Once cleaned and examined fluoride is applied and the teeth can are dried, then OraVet barrier sealant is applied to help protect the teeth, and help prevent tartar accumulation. Your pet will then be discharged with antibiotics and OraVet maintenance gel, which is applied once a week at home to maintain the sealant applied at the time of the dental.

A technician will be available to answer any questions or concerns the morning of the procedure, and at time of discharge. Since it can be difficult to predict the extent of dental disease in advance of the procedure, it is imperative that your veterinarian is able to reach you during the procedure to discuss any additional treatment that may be necessary.

Dental Disease Prevention: The best prevention is simple: (1) Daily Tooth Brushing at home, (2) a Dental-healthy Diet recommended by your veterinarian, (3) Annual Dental Checkups by your veterinarian and (4) Professional Dental Cleanings as recommended by your veterinarian.

Helpful Resources: To learn more about Pet Dental Health, connect to the resources below. If you have any questions or want any assistance with any aspect of your pet's dental health, feel free to contact our medical team.

To learn more about… Feline Dental Disease, Canine Dental Disease, Recommended Home Dental Products, Good to Chew, Better to Rinse, Best to Brush, Video-How to Brush your Pets Teeth


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