Studies show that 70 percent of dogs and 80 percent of cats have some degree of dental disease by age three. If left untreated, continued accumulation of tartar and bacteria can affect the health of your pet's mouth and become a dangerous source of infection, impacting your pet's kidneys and heart function.
We believe that dental care is an important piece of your pet's preventative care. It will not only prevent dental and systemic disease, but in also help minimize the lifetime cost of care for your pet.
The centerpiece of good dental care is a complete oral exam followed by a thorough cleaning. Dental cleanings consist of supragingival scaling or cleaning the teeth above the gum line, followed by the subgingival cleaning, which is done underneath the gum line. This is done carefully and gently with the ultrasonic scaler so the tissues are not damaged. Next, all the tooth surfaces are polished, creating a smooth finish which makes it difficult for bacteria to adhere to and plaque to form.
Once this is done, all the tooth pockets are probed, measured, and charted. This way, we know if the tooth has a normal pocket or not and we can keep track of problems. The final step is a fluoride treatment. Fluoride has antiplaque and antibacterial activities. It also hardens the teeth and decreases sensitivity.For more information on the importance of these exams and cleanings please go here.
Digital Dental Radiography
Examining a dog or cat's mouth can be compared to opening a wrapped birthday present. Inspecting the outside of the box may give you an idea about the contents, but until you open it, you'll never know what's within. Dental x-ray allows us to look beyond the obvious and better examine teeth and the supporting structures below the gum line. For this reason, digital dental radiology is essential to complete dental care.
Digital dental X-rays are high definition images that provide a view below your pet's gum line and jaw in order to look for evidence of dental disease that cannot be seen by visual examination alone. This is a wonderful tool for enabling the treatment of dental issues before they become much larger and more expensive medical issues.
Should we find any abnormalities, such as evidence of gum or tooth decay, gingivitis, resorptive lesions, or tooth root infections, we will discuss them with you as well as treatment options. For complex or severe cases, a board-certified dental specialist is among our network of referral specialists.
Our Basic Dental Treatment Plan
Dental work is not as easy on a pet as it is on a human. Generally, animals will not sit still for their teeth to be cleaned, so they must be put under anesthesia in order to make the procedure safer and faster for both the pet and the veterinarian. The following is the list of the treatments and supplies you may expect to be included in the Simple Dental Treatment Plan in order to ensure a safe and effective treatment:
Dental Exam with Oral Exam: The dental exam includes checking the pet's teeth for problems such as cavities, abscesses, or broken or missing teeth. The oral exam checks the whole mouth for problems such as gingivitis, periodontal disease, and various other problems with the mouth, tongue, and gums.
Pre-anesthetic Profile: This is a series of tests of blood for pets that are less than five years old. These tests make sure the pet's organs are working well so the anesthesia will be metabolized in its body. Although there is always a risk that an animal or human under anesthesia may have complications, this test helps to ensure the pet is healthy to minimize that risk.
Isoflurane Anesthesia: Isoflurane is the inhalant we use to put your pet under anesthesia. It is a very safe gas that is administered through an endotracheal tube placed in the pet's throat, just as it would be administered to a human.
Anesthetic Monitoring: Just as with a human, your pet's vital signs must be monitored while under anesthesia. This is to make sure your pet's body is working properly and processing the anesthesia correctly. We utilize pulse oximetry which measures the oxygen saturation level of the blood, a respiratory monitor which measures the breathing rate, and an EKG monitor to track the heart rate.
IV Catheter and Fluids: An IV catheter is used to administer fluids into your pet's bloodstream. These fluids maintain hydration and blood pressure while the patient is under anesthesia. A warm-water heated blanket is used to keep your pet warm.
Routine Dental Prophy and Fluoride Treatment: Regular professional cleaning is important to maintaining your pet's teeth. The dental prophy is the process of actually cleaning the teeth. Each tooth is cleaned just as a human's teeth would be cleaned by removing plaque and tartar from each individual tooth. We use a safe and effective ultrasonic scaler to clean each tooth thoroughly above and below the gum line. Dental technicians polish the teeth to create a smooth, lustrous surface that is more resistant to plaque buildup. Fluoride treatments help strengthen enamel and reduce tooth sensitivity.
Intravenous Antibiotic Injection: This is an injection of antibiotics while the pet is still under anesthesia. Because the antibiotic is given intravenously, protective levels of medication are immediately available to prevent infection. These antibiotics also help minimize the chance of infection developing while the pet is healing.
Home Dental Care for Your Pet
Dental care is not something that can be left to periodic visits with your veterinarian. Because plaque buildup—the primary cause of poor oral health—is a gradual process occurring throughout the life of your pet, it is important to practice good home dental care. As with humans, this means regular tooth brushing and in some cases additional steps may be necessary. Any member of the our staff can show you the proper method for caring for your pet's teeth as well as help you select the most effective dental products for your pet. You may also visit our Facebook page to view a video of teaching your pet to enjoy tooth brushing.
You should also be able to recognize the signs of poor oral health. If you notice any of the following you may want to contact your veterinarian:
- Persistent bad breath
- Tartar or plaque buildup (ask your veterinarian how to identify these)
- 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
- Pawing at the mouth
- Decreased appetite or difficulty eating
- Loose or missing teeth