Regular dental care does more than just keep your pet’s breath fresh and clean. It’s possible to add years to your pet’s life with proper dental care. Dental hygiene can also increase your pet’s health, vitality and wellbeing.
Dental problems, if left untreated, can often lead to larger systemic problems in your pet due to oral bacteria entering the blood stream and damaging the kidneys, heart and liver. It is estimated that more than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats develop tooth and gum disease by the age of three years (Path to high quality care: Practical tips for improving compliance, 2003).
Pets have dental disease just like you do. Many of these problems can be avoided by bringing your pet to your veterinarian for regular dental check-ups and teeth cleanings. Bad breath and/or reddened gums are the most common signs of dental problems.
Some Signs of Dental Problems Include:
Bad breath – one of the first signs of dental disease
A yellowish-brown crust of plaque/tartar 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
What Happens During a Cleaning?
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 dentist is relatively brief and does not require sedation. In contrast, veterinary dentistry is considerably more involved, time-consuming and complex. Cleaning a pet’s teeth requires general anaesthesia, and consequently a day of hospitalization. The skills of several people, from veterinarians to veterinary technicians and animal attendants are required for each dental procedure.
At Carindale Veterinary Surgery, your pet’s dental cleaning begins with a physical examination. This examination is important for evaluating your pet’s general health. After the physical exam, your pet is given an anaesthetic 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, an ultrasonic scaler is used to clean above the gumline while a curette cleans and smoothes the teeth under the gumline in the crevice. Then your pet’s teeth are polished and the gums are washed with an anti-bacterial solution to help delay tartar build-up.
An examination does not always reveal all sources of pain in an animal’s mouth; therefore, we can perform full dental mouth radiographs during dental cleaning if needed. A dental radiograph will detect disease and potential pain that may be occurring under the gums.
Extractions and Surgery
In advanced cases of periodontal disease, oral surgery or tooth extractions are required. The veterinarians at Carindale Veterinary Surgery perform a wide range of dental procedures.
Prevention: The Best Medicine
Dental 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. Trained veterinary staff can show you the proper method of brushing your pet’s teeth.