Dental health is important to keep your pet healthy. Did you know that 80% of pets over 1 year of age have dental disease. Dental disease prevention takes effort from our side as well as yours! We can recommend diets, treats, chews, teeth brushing, oral gel solutions, full dental cleanings, etc but we can’t to it all! We need your commitment to help fight dental disease in your pet! Keeping your pet’s teeth and mouth healthy is one of your major responsibilities as a pet owner. When you bring your pet’s in for their wellness examinations when they are young, we check to make sure that all of their “baby” teeth have come in with no abnormalities and that there are no other concerns with their overall oral health and formation. We will then monitor their teeth at every visit and ensure that their “adult” teeth have erupted and replaced their first set by 6-7 months of age.
Get to Know More about Mouth Disorders
It’s very important that you learn about some of the possible mouth problems that your pet may encounter:
- Periodontal disease – This is a painful infection that occurs between the gum and tooth. It can result in loss of teeth and this infection can also spread to the rest of the body. Signs to watch out for include tartar build up, bad breath, loose teeth, tooth pain, sneezing, and nasal discharge.
- Gingivitis – Gingivitis refers to gum inflammation brought about by plaque, tartar, and bacteria build-up above and below the gum line. You’ll know if your dog has this problem if there are signs of red swollen gums, bad breath, and bleeding. Gingivitis can be prevented with regular teeth cleaning.
- Halitosis – More commonly known as bad breath, halitosis is the first sign of the dental disorder that’s usually caused by bacteria from food debris caught between teeth or abscessed teeth in the more advanced stages. Regular brushing of your dog’s teeth can go a long way in preventing this problem.
- Mouth tumors – Tumors may appear as lumps on the gums. Although most are benign, some may be malignant and must be surgically removed.
Check Your Pet’s Teeth Regularly
While your veterinarian will do a thorough oral exam at the time of your pet’s wellness examination, it’s important to do a regular inspection of their mouth between checkups. If you notice anything wrong or different, bring him immediately to our veterinary clinic. Some of the signs for which you should watch include:
- Excessive drooling
- Gum inflammation
- Gum tumors
- Tongue cysts
- Loose teeth
- Pawing at the face/mouth
- Reluctance to eat certain foods
When My Pet Needs a Dental Cleaning
While tooth brushing is the best thing you can do as an owner to reduce plaque, tartar and oral problems for your pet, there may be a time when your dog needs dentistry. Along with pre-anesthetic blood work, gas anesthetic and monitoring of vital signs, your pet’s teeth will be thoroughly examined and all surfaces of each tooth will be cleaned while he undergoes his dental procedure. During this time, we check for infections and cavities by probing under the gum line with dental instruments. The tartar build-up on your dog’s teeth is just the beginning! True oral health starts UNDER the gum line. It is imperative that these areas are thoroughly cleaned, as simply scaling the surface of the tooth is just addressing the cosmetic appearance. Once that is complete your pet will have full mouth dental x-rays. If the x-rays show infection in the bone or abscesses, extractions may be necessary. Our veterinarian on duty will phone you BEFORE any teeth can be removed. Fortunately, we use dental nerve blocks (freezing areas of the mouth just as your dentist does for you) if extractions are needed in your dog’s dental procedure-this helps reduce pain and reduce the amount of general anesthesia needed. After the scaling, probing, x-rays and necessary extractions, your pet’s teeth are polished and he will receive medication for pain before he wakes up. After your pet has a full dental cleaning, you will be able to continue their regular oral care routine shortly thereafter. Daily brushing, feeding an appropriate prescription dental diet and regular veterinary examinations will all help keep their mouth in great shape.
What about anesthetic-free cleanings?
We do not recommend full dental cleanings without anesthetic for the simple reason that there is no way you can assess all of the teeth in the mouth, especially in small dogs and cats, and do a proper oral examination, charting, probing, scaling and polishing, and dental radiographs for your pet without anesthetic. The main reason why we offer dental procedures is to rule out disease, and to relieve or prevent pain that is related to mouth and dental disease. Veterinarians are trained, licensed, professionals that have been given permission by the Province of British Columbia and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association to provide these services. It is illegal for anyone to perform medical or surgical procedures when they are not licensed to do so.