Dentistry

Many pet owners spend a lot of time and energy maintaining the health of their pets, and yet frequently dental care gets left behind. Keeping up with your pet’s dental health is a very important part of your pet’s overall health. Problems with dental health can both cause and be impacted by other health problems so you must be proactive in your pet’s oral care.

What is Veterinary Dentistry?

Veterinary dentistry is the practice of evaluating, cleaning, polishing and extracting pet’s teeth, along with treating gum disease and various other aspects of oral health care.

Your pet will first have an oral exam, where Dr. Porter will evaluate the level of dental health based on a visual examination. We highly recommend dental x-rays to properly examine the jaw health and tooth roots below the gum line. The majority of dental diseases manifest below the gum line where it can’t be seen and x-rays can help identify problems before they become life-threatening.

Since pet’s are not able to sit in a chair with their mouth open for a dental cleaning like humans, a thorough dental cleaning needs to be done under general anesthesia. Our dental packages include bloodwork to ensure that your pets liver and kidneys are working well so they can adequately metabolize and eliminate the anesthetic drugs. We also place an IV catheter to administer fluids which help flush the anesthetics through their system and keep an open access to administer medications in case of an emergency. Emergencies are very rare, but you should be aware that any anesthetic procedure can have risks.

Scaling, or the removal of dental plaque and tartar, and polishing, which is like the process done on human teeth during regular dental cleanings, are routinely done on your pet during cleanings. The teeth are then polished and sealant may be applied. Dr. Porter may also prescribe some pain medication to give at home if they are treated for conditions such as periodontal disease or abscesses or have any teeth extracted.

Oral Heal in Cats and Dogs

We recommend getting your pet’s teeth checked at least once a year. Bring your pet in sooner if you notice any of the following problems:

  • Bad breath
  • Missing or broken teeth
  • Extra teeth or baby teeth in adult pets
  • Refusal to eat or abnormal chewing
  • Pain, bleeding, or swelling in or around the mouth
  • Take great care when examining your pet’s mouth on your own as it may be painful for your pet

Causes of Dental Problems

Although cavities are less common in animals than people, your pet can still develop some of the same problems that people face, including:

  • Periodontal disease
  • Broken teeth and roots
  • Abscesses or infected teeth
  • Malocclusion or misalignment of bite
  • Broken or fractured jaw
  • Palate defects (Cleft palate)

The most common dental condition in both cats and dogs is periodontal disease. By age 3, it is likely that your pet will show some early evidence of periodontal disease. It’s important to be proactive in preventative measures or conditions will worsen as your pet ages. Periodontal disease can cause additional problems with the kidneys, liver, and heart and that is why early detection is crucial.

What You Can Do at Home

Frequently removing dental plaque and tartar is essential in preventing the most common oral diseases. We recommend regularly brushing your pet’s teeth in between scheduled oral cleanings. Daily brushing is preferred but if your schedule does not permit it, brushing several times a week is also effective. Dogs are generally more amenable to brushing than cats, so patience is key.

Training your pet to tolerate brushing while she is still a puppy or kitten will also lead to greater success with brushing throughout her life. However, if your pet will absolutely not tolerate brushing, we have other alternatives available such as water additives. Putting water additives in your pet’s water bowl aids in dental health because the additives break down the bacteria that cause plaque and tarter to build on teeth.

It’s more beneficial to spend the bit of extra money on quality dental cleaning products for your pet. You want the value to last as long as possible plus it ensures less frequent trips to the vet for professional cleanings. We will also recommend the dental products, diets, and treats that are most appropriate for your pet to ensure healthy teeth and gums.

For more information on dental care for pets, please visit AAHA.org or VOHC.org.