County Animal Hospital provides veterinary dentistry services for dogs and cats. Many people are surprised to learn that their pet needs dental care. The truth is that pets have a higher incidence of dental disease than humans. Of all pets over two years old, 85% have some form of dental disease. Unlike people, dogs and cats rarely get cavities. They are instead much more prone to gum and periodontal disease related to buildup of tartar on the teeth. If tartar is not removed, it separates the gums from the teeth to form pockets, which encourages bacterial growth. At this point the damage, called periodontal disease, is irreversible. It can be very painful and can lead to loose or lost teeth, abscesses, and bone loss or infection. As bacterial growth continues, the bacteria may enter the bloodstream. This can cause infection of the heart valves, liver, and kidneys.
If treated by your veterinarian, periodontal disease can be slowed or stopped. To prevent dental disease, your dog or cat needs routine dental care at home. But to perform good home care, you need to start with clean teeth.
Routine Veterinary Dental Cleaning
During your pet’s wellness exam, we will evaluate your pet’s oral health. If tartar has formed on your pet’s teeth, it is necessary for us to remove it. Your pet will be treated with loving care during the procedure, and routine dental cleaning consists of:
• Anesthetizing your pet for safety and comfort.
• Take a digital x-ray of your pets mouth.
• Flushing the mouth with a solution to kill the bacteria.
• Cleaning the teeth with handheld and ultrasonic scalers.
• Polishing the teeth to remove microscopic scratches, which lessens the surface area for tartar to form.
• Inspecting each tooth and the gum around it for any signs of disease.
• Recording any abnormalities or additional procedures on a dental chart.
Home Oral Care and Cat or Dog Teeth Cleaning Tips
Routine, daily, at-home brushing can help prevent periodontal disease. Home oral care includes routine examinations of your pet’s mouth and brushing his or her teeth.
• Home oral exam—As you care for your pet’s mouth, look for warning signs of gum disease such as bad breath, red and swollen gums, a yellow-brown crust of tartar around the gum line, and pain or bleeding when you touch the gums or mouth. You should also watch for discolored, fractured, or missing teeth. Any bumps or masses within the mouth should also be checked by your veterinarian.
• Daily brushing—Regular brushing of your pet’s teeth is a very important preventive for oral and other diseases. Also, studies show that hard kibbles are slightly better than canned food at keeping plaque from accumulating on the teeth. There are veterinary dentist-approved foods and treats on the market that have shown that pets eating these foods have less plaque and tartar buildup.