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.

A veterinarian should evaluate your pet’s dental health at least once a year. We recommend this because bacteria and food debris accumulates around a pet’s teeth 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.

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 a pet’s body. A thorough physical exam combined with appropriate laboratory work can determine if this is the case.

We can recommend and demonstrate preventative measures you can begin at home. Our wellness program emphasizes and explains how you can avoid costly dental procedures with your pet in the future.

We recommend brushing your pet’s teeth at least twice weekly. Daily is probably easier because you have a regular schedule. If you only brush your pet’s teeth once per week then the plaque mentioned above becomes calcified onto the teeth and you can no longer brush it off. Once this happens then you will need to have your pet’s teeth professionally cleaned.

A professional cleaning is a very comprehensive procedure that involves;

  1. a preanesthetic blood panel to make sure kidneys, liver etc are functioning normally. Also to make sure the animal is not anemic and does not have any other underlying disease.
  2. full anesthetic
  3. intravenous fluids to maintain good blood pressure throughout the procedure
  4. an intravenous injection of antibiotics to counteract the infection that is always present in their mouths
  5. scaling, polishing & a fluoride treatment done by an accredited animal health technologist using a high speed dental machine the same as our dentists would use to clean our teeth.
  6. after the cleaning the sulcus around each tooth is probed for depth, presence of pus, erosions of the enamel & each tooth is tested for looseness.
  7. teeth may be found that need extracting. These teeth or other questionable teeth may be radiographed to determine the extent of bone loss, abscessation, etc.
  8. if teeth are extracted the alveolus of that tooth is curetted , flushed with an antibacterial solution & sutured.
  9. the animal is given an injection of a non-steroidal medication to help prevent pain. This injection will help prevent pain for 24 hours.
  10. the animal is sent home on antibiotics for 10 days.

Picture of a dog before having a dental prophylaxis done

Picture of the same dog after a dental has been performed