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Pet Dental Care

Dental ServicesYou are a responsible pet owner. You take good care of your pet. But do you always remember to take care of your pet's teeth?

Pets have dental diseases and problems just like you do. Many of these problems can be avoided by bringing your pet to your veterinarian for regular dental check-ups and dental cleanings.

Signs of Dental Problems

You can prevent serious dental problems from happening by making sure your pet receives dental exams at the time of each vaccination, again at six months of age, and then annually. In between visits to the veterinarian, check your pet's teeth regularly for signs of problems. Symptoms of dental disease include:

  • Bad breath - one of the first signs of dental disease
  • A yellowish-brown crust of plaque on the teeth near the gum line
  • Red and swollen gums
  • Pain or bleeding when your pet eats or when the mouth or gums are touched
  • Decreased appetite or difficulty eating
  • Loose or missing teeth

Does your pet have bad breath or reddened gums?

If so, gingivitis could be the cause. Gingivitis occurs when soft plaque hardens into rough, irritating tartar. Tartar build-up on your pet's teeth can cause damage to the teeth and gums. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to an infection called periodontal disease. This disease can cause the loss of teeth.

Dental Cleanings

Veterinary dentistry is quite different from human dentistry. For most of us, caring for our teeth and gums has been part of our daily routine for as long as we can remember. Consequently, a person's visit to the dental hygienist is relatively brief and does not require sedation. In contrast, veterinary dentistry is considerably more involved, time consuming and complex. It requires general anesthesia and, consequently, a day's hospitalization and the skills of several people, from veterinarians to veterinary technicians and assistants.

Dental Cleaning

Pre-Dental Workup

A pre-dental workup involves laboratory and diagnostic tests to better evaluate a pet's current health status and to assure safe anesthesia. Current medical problems must be evaluated and any possible unknown problems must be identified prior to dentistry.

For all animals, regardless of age, we suggest a brief in-hospital blood screen and a pre-operative electrocardiogram (EKG) on the day of the dentistry. For older animals, a complete blood count (CBC) and blood chemistry profile is taken at least one day prior to the dentistry.

Your pet's dental cleaning will begin with a physical examination. This is important to evaluate your pet's general health. After the physical exam, your pet is given anesthesia for a safe and painless sleep during the dental cleaning.

The first part of dental cleaning requires the removal of tartar. This is done with a hand scaler.

Next, a periodontal probe checks for pockets under the gumline where periodontal disease and bad breath starts. A mechanical scaler is used to clean above the gumline while a curette cleans and smoothes the teeth under the gumline in the crevice. After the scaling, a full mouth digital radiography will be performed to assess the level of periodontal disease in your pet.

Your pet's teeth are then polished, creating a smooth surface. The gums are washed with an anti-bacterial solution to help delay tartar build-up both under the gumline and on the crown of the tooth.

Finally, the doctor also administers a fluoride treatment to strengthen your pet's teeth, to desensitize exposed roots, and to decrease infection.

Home Care and Prevention

Dental care does not end with a visit to your veterinarian. You need to continue your veterinarian's good work at home. Brushing your pet's teeth is an important part of home dental care. The staff at Pet Medical Center will show you the proper method of brushing your dog's teeth.

Give Your Pet Complete Dental Care

Annual veterinary dental care and home dental care will help keep your pet's breath fresh and gums and teeth healthy. Your pet's smile and healthier life will be equaled by your smile and pride in a job well done.

Dental Care Q & A

    Dental Services
  1. How often should I have my pet's teeth checked?

    After the examination for any retained "baby teeth," which is performed at six months, your pet should have an annual checkup for dental health when it receives its yearly booster vaccines.

  2. Do pets get cavities like humans?

    Cavities are not as common in pets but do occur occasionally. Frequently in cats, resorbtive lesions may form. Resorbtive lesions are characterized by enamel that has eroded excessively, exposing the dentine layer, which is much softer than enamel. The exact cause of these resorbtive lesions is not known at this time, but they are commonly seen in our feline patients.

  3. Why does my dog or cat have bad breath?

    The most common cause of bad breath, or halitosis, is excessive tartar deposits on the teeth. Bacteria feed and live in the tartar and produce offensive odors. Tartar is a crusty collection of food particles, minerals and bacteria that forms at the tooth and gum borders. However, metabolic diseases such as kidney disease and diabetes can also produce halitosis.

  4. Does tartar on the teeth hurt my pet?

    Yes. As tartar accumulates at the gum line, it causes gum recession and inflammation or gingivitis. This allows bacteria in the tartar to infect and loosen the base of the tooth, causing periodontal disease. In pets (and people), periodontal disease may lead to an infection of the heart (endocarditis) and / or other organs. Inflammation of the gums and infection of the teeth can cause your pet considerable pain, and in response, his or her appetite and general attitude may deteriorate.

  5. How can I prevent tartar build-up?

    Feed your pet a well-balanced, commercial diet. Brushing the teeth on a daily basis is an excellent way to check tartar build-up, though once hard plaque has developed, your pet may require a dental procedure by a veterinarian. Brushing with C.E.T., a flavored toothpaste designed for pets, daily discourages tartar build-up. For dogs, Booda bones, Nylabones, or large rawhide chew toys are also helpful as a preventative and also aid in stimulation of the gums. We also recommend weekly use of OraVet, a gel that can help prevent bacteria from attaching to your pet's teeth. If your pet does not let you brush the teeth, you may use one of the pre-made mouthwashes available, such as Nolvadent. Alternatively, if you cannot provide maintenance, you may need to have us perform full dental scaling and polishing on a more frequent basis.

  6. When is dentistry required?

    Dentistry is required when hardened tartar deposits have occurred and / or when periodontal disease is present. It is also required when substantial mouth odor exists, which indicates infection or decay even if it is not readily apparent.

  7. How long will the teeth remain clean?

    This depends on diet, dental alignment, amount of gum recession that has already occurred, and future care of the teeth. Smaller breeds tend to develop tartar much more quickly than larger pets; in most cases, this is a genetic predisposition and not something the owner can readily modify. However, the degree to which the owner provides ongoing dental prophylaxis heavily influences the outcome!