The Importance of Dental Care

Do you regularly brush or care for your pet’s teeth?

Well, Did You Know…

Oral disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem in pets! According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by the age of 3. It is more often a problem for smaller breed dogs and certain breeds of cats. If your pet’s teeth are left uncared for, it can lead to tooth decay, bad breath, bleeding gums, and tooth loss. Even worse, did you know the bacteria living in the plaque can enter the bloodstream and damage the heart, liver, kidney, and lungs! Just imagine if you didn’t brush your teeth for a couple of days, weeks, or years! Prevention is easy! Our staff can advise you on steps to caring for your particular pet’s teeth.

How it All Starts…

Food particles, bacteria, and saliva build up in between the tooth and gum and form plaque that accumulates on the tooth. If left untreated, bacteria grow in the plaque and as calcium salts are deposited from the saliva, plaque turns into tartar. Plaque and tartar will continue to accumulate into more layers of tartar making it become what is termed as calculus. Bacteria from the plaque can irritate the gums causing reddening and inflammation of the gums, also known as gingivitis. Gingivitis is reversible and can be treated with plaque removal. If left untreated, it can result in periodontitis (infection around the tooth) which is irreversible and can only be contained to prevent further progression. This disease can cause swollen and tender gums, receding gums, bleeding, pain, and bad breath. The infection may enter the bloodstream and harm the heart, liver, and kidneys.

Prevention is the Key to a Brighter Smile…

So how do you know if your pet has oral disease? Well some signs are bad breath, yellow-brown crust on teeth, red or bleeding gums, abnormal drooling, and change of chewing or eating habits. First step is to get an exam by your veterinarian who will suggest if your pet needs a dental cleaning. Second, start at home dental care that includes brushing, applying an oral hygiene rinse, or giving specially made chews that help keep plaque from sticking on teeth. Finally, get regular follow-up veterinary checkups to make sure your pet’s teeth and health are in good condition.

Please feel free to ask our staff about tips to help keep your pet’s teeth clean and breath fresh and find out how you can get your pet a dental today. Start early, the younger the better! However, it’s not too late to teach an old dog new tricks!

Signs of dental disease include:

  • Changes in eating habits and/or behavior
  • Bad breath
  • Pawing at mouth, pain about the face (avoiding petting)
  • Drooling
  • Swelling of the face
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Sneezing or nasal discharge
  • Sometimes there are no indications at all!

Common Questions

Will my pet have to be sedated?

Yes. All pets that are having their teeth cleaned will need general anesthesia. This is for your pet’s safety and comfort. We will perform blood work before sedating your pet to make sure the anesthesia will be tolerated.

What does a teeth cleaning include?

Every dog and cat will have their teeth scaled and cleaned using an ultrasonic scalar and dental instruments very similar to what is used in a human dentist’s office. A doctor will examine the gums and teeth for signs of disease. The teeth will be polished and fluoride will be applied to help prevent the formation of plaque.

What if my pet needs an extraction?

Extractions are done with your permission and are part of the form you will read and sign when you drop off your pet for the dental procedure. We will only remove teeth that are diseased or infected that they are causing your pet pain. If there is repairable damage, we will offer to refer you to a board certified veterinary dentist who has the specialized equipment and skills to repair damaged teeth. Usually, we will send home antibiotics and pain medication if your pet requires an extraction. A large number of extractions may mean an overnight stay in the hospital to allow any discharge to resolve.

How much does all of this cost?

Cost will vary from pet to pet depending on the type of anesthesia used, number of extractions (if any) and your pet’s size and weight. Please ask a technician or a doctor for a detailed treatment plan.