Pet Dental Care
Your pet's world revolves around its mouth.
Dental hygiene is a very important component of your pet's overall health. Dental disease, caused by tartar buildup, affects liver and heart function, digestion, and general comfort level. It can also lead to infection, with bacteria able to enter the bloodstream from the gums and travel throughout the rest of the body.
We recommend yearly dental exams for most pets, and we have a state-of-the-art dental X-ray machine that helps us determine the best course of action for your pet's teeth. Our excellent dental cleaning tools and skilled professionals can help treat dental disease and prevent it from occurring in the first place. Clean teeth won't just benefit your pet. Abnormal breath -- a very common sign of dental disease -- isn't very pleasant for the owner, either!
At Liberty Animal Hospital, your pet is fully anesthetized for dental procedures, as they tend not to listen when we say "Open up and say AHHH!'
All teeth are scaled with an ultrasonic scaler to remove plaque and tartar from the crown of the tooth as well as from underneath the gum line. We take full mouth x-rays to assess dental health underneath the gums. This is especially important because even if a tooth looks normal, it may be hiding disease under the gum line that we would not be able to see without x-rays. At this point, we chart the teeth to note what teeth are diseased and may need to be extracted to better the dental health of your pet going forward. After any diseased teeth are removed, we polish all of the teeth to remove any fine marks that may be left by the ultrasonic scaler. Your pet may need to go home on antibiotics to prevent infection, and also may need to go home with some pain medications if there were extractions performed.
At Liberty Animal Hospital, our veterinarian will discuss with you the treatment option that best fits the lifestyle of your pet, along with other factors that will help in recovery and early return to function.
Wild relatives of dogs and cats are programmed not to show any signs of weakness. If they do, they are moved down the ladder of seniority and singled out by predators.
Our domesticated dogs and cats behave in the same manner. They tend to hide their pain, and this is particularly true when they are suffering from dental disease.
Signs of dental pain typically come on very gradually, and owners frequently associate the pet's behavior with "just getting older." Dental disease is a very common reason for a pet to act older.
For years, the standard of care in veterinary dentistry was to remove the tartar (also called "calculus") both above and below the gum line by scraping, and to extract any teeth that were loose in their sockets.
This approach to care fails to address most painful but treatable problems present in your pet's mouth. Loose teeth have likely been diseased for years! It is much better to find and treat dental problems before extraction is required.
Approximately 80% of dogs and cats have dental/periodontal disease by 3 years of age. And fully 50% of canine and feline patients over 5 years of age have at least one painful dental problem. Periodontal disease has been shown to be associated with heart, liver and kidney problems.
Prevention is the better medicine. When we proactively look for and treat dental problems, the pets feel better, act normal, and relate better to their owner. The owner benefits from interacting with a pet that acts normal because they are not in pain, their breath is not so offensive, and as a result, the human-animal bond stays strong.
Recommended Exam Frequency
The average dental cleaning in a dog or cat is like cleaning a person's teeth after they did not brush their teeth for a few years! Even if your pet is eating normally, that is not a good enough reason to delay getting their teeth cleaned. The truth is, they will eat despite having severe dental disease and in many circumstances, swallow their food instead of chewing it first. They have teeth for a reason! Ideally pets should get their teeth cleaned every year.
Common indications for dental treatment:
• Gingivitis (inflamed gums) and a red stripe along the gum line
•Abnormal breath due to dental disease-causing bacteria
•Any indication of oral discomfort, such as dropping food or lack of chewing
•Any prolonged nasal discharge
•Nosebleed or bloody discharge from nostrils
•Oral/facial swelling or drainage
•Fractured teeth with exposed inner tooth surfaces
•Abnormalities in the way their teeth come together when biting or chewing, resulting in trauma to soft tissues of the mouth or to dental structures
•Tooth erosion (known as resorptive lesions) -- especially common in cats
•Orthodontic problems in young patients before their permanent teeth come in
▲ BEFORE TEETH CLEANING/DENTAL PROPHYLAXIS: Dog with moderate dental tartar and periodontal (gum) disease
▲ AFTER TEETH CLEANING/DENTAL PROPHYLAXIS: Clean teeth with tartar (calculus) removed above and below the gumline. BONUS: pleasant breath restored.