Pet Dental Care

Pet Dental CareYou are a responsible pet owner. You take good care of your pet. But do you always remember to take care of your pet’s teeth?

Pets have dental diseases and problems just like you do. Many of these problems can be avoided by bringing your pet to your veterinarian for regular dental check-ups and dental cleanings.

Signs of Dental Problems

  • Bad breath – one of the first signs of dental disease
  • 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
  • Decreased appetite or difficulty eating
  • Loose or missing teeth

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Does Your Pet Have Reddened Gums or Bad Breath?

If so, it could be from gingivitis. Gingivitis occurs when soft plaque hardens into rough, irritating tartar. Tartar build-up on your pet’s teeth can cause damage to the teeth and gums.

If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to an infection called periodontal disease. This disease can cause the loss of teeth.

You can prevent serious dental problems from happening by making sure your pet receives dental exams at the time of each vaccination, again at six months of age, and then annually.

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Dental Cleanings

Pet Dental Care

Veterinary dentistry is quite different from the equivalent process in people. For most of us, caring for our teeth and gums has been part of our daily routine for as long as we can remember. Consequently, a person's visit to the dental hygienist is relatively brief and does not require sedation. In contrast, veterinary dentistry is considerably more involved, time-consuming, and complex. It requires general anesthesia, and consequently a day’s hospitalization and the skills of several people, from veterinarians to veterinary technicians and animal attendants.

Pre-Dental Workup

A pre-dental workup involves laboratory and diagnostic tests to better evaluate a pet’s current health status and to assure safe anesthesia. Current medical problems must be evaluated and any possible unknown problems must be identified prior to dentistry.

For otherwise healthy young animals, we suggest a brief in-hospital blood screen on the day of the dentistry. For older animals, a complete blood count (CBC) and blood chemistry profile (SMA20) is taken at least one day prior to the dentistry. A preoperative electrocardiogram (EKG) may be suggested in certain circumstances.

Your pet’s dental cleaning will begin with a physical examination. This is important to evaluate your pet's general health. After the physical exam, your pet is given an anesthesia for a safe and painless sleep during the dental cleaning.

The first part of dental cleaning requires the removal of tartar. This is done with a hand scaler.

Next, a periodontal probe checks for pockets under the gum-line where periodontal disease and bad breath starts. A mechanical scaler is used to clean above the gum line while a curette cleans and smooth the teeth under the gum line in the crevice.

Your pet’s teeth are polished, creating a smooth surface. The gums are washed with an anti- bacterial solution to help delay tartar buildup both under the gum line and on the crown of the tooth.

Finally, the doctor also administers a fluoride treatment to strengthen your pet’s teeth, to desensitize exposed roots, and to decrease infection.

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Additional Dental Services

Digital Dental Radiographs

In addition to our though cleanings, we also are able to offer our clients computerized dental radiographs. These high-definition images 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.

Dental Procedures

We are also qualified to perform a range of dental procedures such as tooth extractions and mucoperiosteal flap repair. For more complicated dental procedures we refer our clients to an area board certified specialist.

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Home Dental Care

Home Dental CareDental care does not end with a visit to your veterinarian. You need to continue your veterinarian's good work at home. Brushing your pet’s teeth is an important part of home dental care. The staff at Deer Park Animal Hospital will show you the proper method of brushing your Dog’s teeth.

You can also learn how to brush your cat's teeth by watching these instructional videos from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. You can also go here for helpful advice from the veterinarians at Deer Park Animal Hospital.

Dental Care FAQs

How Often Should I Have My Pet’s Teeth Checked?

After the examination for any retained “baby teeth” which is performed at six months, your pet should have an annual checkup for dental health when it receives its yearly booster vaccines.

Do Pets Get Cavities Like Humans?

Cavities are not as common in pets, but do occur occasionally. Frequently in cats subgingival caries may form when the gum lines have receded excessively exposing the dentine layer that is much softer than enamel.

Why Does My Dog or Cat Have Bad Breath?

The most common cause of bad breath is excessive tartar deposits on the teeth. Bacteria feed and live in the tartar and produce offensive odors. Tartar is a crusty collection of food particles, minerals, and bacteria that forms at the tooth/gum borders. However, metabolic diseases such as kidney disease, diabetes, etc. can also produce halitosis.

Does Tartar on the Teeth Hurt My Pet?

Yes. As tartar accumulates at the gum line, it causes gum recession and inflammation or gingivitis. This allows bacteria in the tartar to infect and loosen the base of the tooth, causing periodontal disease. In pets, periodontal disease may lead to an infection of the heart (endocarditis) and/or of other organs, as also may occur in people. Inflammation of the gums and infection of the teeth can cause your pet considerable pain, and his/her appetite and general attitude may deteriorate.

How Can I Prevent Tartar Buildup?

Feed your pet a well-balanced, commercial diet. Brushing the teeth is an excellent way to check tartar buildup, though once hard plaque has developed, your pet may require a dentistry visit. Brushing with CET, a flavored toothpaste designed for pets, 2-3 times weekly, discourages tartar buildup.

For dogs, Booda bones, Nylabones, or large rawhide chew toys are also helpful as preventative and also aid in stimulation of the gums. If your pet does not let you brush the teeth, you may use one of the pre-made mouthwashes (e.g. Nolvadent). Alternatively, if you cannot provide maintenance, you may need to have us perform full dental scaling and polishing on a more frequent basis.

When is Dentistry Required?

Dentistry is required when hardened tartar deposits have occurred and/or when periodontal disease is present. It is also required when substantial mouth odor exists, which indicates infection or decay even if it is not readily apparent.

How Long Will the Teeth Remain Clean?

This depends on diet, dental alignment, amount of gum recession that has already occurred, and future care of the teeth. Smaller breeds tend to develop tartar much more quickly; in most cases this is a genetic predisposition and not something the owner can readily modify. However, the degree to which the owner provides ongoing dental prophylaxis heavily influences the outcome.

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