We all know that your special companion also needs dental care. Healthy teeth and gums can help your pet live a longer, healthier life. The buildup of tartar can lead to gingivitis, a painful gum infection which can eventually lead to endocarditic (heart valve infection) and pyelonephritis (severe kidney infection).
Schedule your pet’s dental visit with our office to determine if he or she needs dental cleaning. Our specially selected equipment helps each pet cleaning last longer and makes the dental cleaning process much easier. Dental cleaning usually consists of scaling and polishing the teeth, but may also include tooth extractions and antibiotic therapy when necessary.
Never ignore the importance of your pet’s teeth. Let us help you be certain of their health care.
Pet Periodontal Disease
Often we forget that animals are susceptible to the same kinds of diseases as humans, and in some cases even more so. This is the case with periodontal disease. In fact, periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition affecting adult pets, despite the fact that it is almost entirely preventable.
Signs of Oral and Dental Disease in Dogs and Cats
- Bad breath.
- Loose teeth or teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar.
- Your pet shies away from you when you touch the mouth area.
- Drooling or dropping food from the mouth.
- Bleeding from the mouth.
- Loss of appetite or loss of weight (this combination can result from diseases of many organs, and early veterinary examination is important).
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is no different in pets than in humans. Periodontal disease is the destruction of bone, gum tissue and structures that hold teeth in place. Periodontal disease is caused by bacterial infection that spreads, unseen, beneath the gum line. As the disease progresses, it destroys the bone around the tooth roots leading to mobile, painful teeth. Dogs and cats with advanced periodontal disease often require oral surgery to extract many teeth.
How do I know if my pet has periodontal disease?
The truth is that you don’t. Unfortunately, by the time there are obvious indications of periodontal disease, such as bad breath and loose teeth, there is already significant damage. Periodontal disease begins and exists under the gum line where it is not visible. White teeth do not mean that your pet is free from disease. The only way to prevent or identify periodontal disease early is through regular veterinary dental cleanings under anesthesia, where the pet’s mouth is thoroughly evaluated, and cleaned.
Why an Anesthetic Dental Cleaning?
Dental tartar is firmly adhered to the surface of the teeth. Scaling to remove tartar is accomplished using ultrasonic and sonic power scalers, plus hand instruments that must have a sharp working edge to be used effectively. Even a slight head movement by the patient could result in injury to the oral tissues of the patient, and the technician may be bitten when the patient reacts.
Professional dental scaling includes scaling the surfaces of the teeth both above and below the gingival margin (gum line), followed by dental polishing. The most critical part of a dental scaling procedure is scaling the tooth surfaces that are within the gingival pocket (the subgingival space between the gum and the root), where periodontal disease is active. Because the patient cooperates, dental scaling of human teeth performed by a professional trained in the procedures can be completed successfully without anesthesia. However, access to the subgingival area of every tooth is impossible in an unanesthetized canine or feline patient. Removal of dental tartar on the visible surfaces of the teeth has little effect on a pet’s health and provides a false sense of accomplishment. The effect is purely cosmetic.
It ensures the cooperation of the patient with a procedure it does not understand, elimination of pain resulting from examination and treatment of affected dental tissues during the procedure, and protection of the airway and lungs from accidental aspiration.
A complete oral examination is an important part of a professional dental scaling procedure, which is not possible in an unanesthetized patient. The surfaces of the teeth facing the tongue cannot be examined, and areas of disease and discomfort are likely to be missed.Safe use of an anesthetic or sedative in a dog or cat requires an evaluation of the general health and size of the patient to determine the appropriate drug and dose, and continual monitoring of the patient.
Veterinarians are trained in all of these procedures. Prescribing or administering anesthetic or sedative drugs by a non-veterinarian can be very dangerous, and is illegal. Although anesthesia will never be 100% risk-free, modern anesthetic and patient evaluation techniques used in veterinary hospitals minimize the risks, and millions of dental scaling procedures are safely performed each year in veterinary hospitals.
To minimize the need for professional dental scaling procedures and to maintain optimal oral health, AVDC recommends daily dental home care from an early age in dogs and cats. This should include brushing or use of other effective techniques to retard accumulation of dental plaque, such as dental diets and chew materials. This, combined with periodic examination of the patient by a veterinarian and with dental scaling under anesthesia when indicated, will optimize life-long oral health for dogs and cats. For information on effective oral hygiene products for dogs and cats, visit the Veterinary Oral Health Council website (www.VOHC.org).
We are pleased to include state-of-the-art dental x-rays with every anesthetic dental. These x-rays help us see below the gum line and are the only way to identify potential problems before they cause excessive damage.
From website: American Veterinary Dental College www.avdc.org