Dental disease is the most common illness affecting cats and dogs, and it often goes unnoticed by pet owners. The most obvious sign of dental disease is bad breath or "halitosis", but this may not be noticed until dental disease has reached an advanced stage.
Dental disease affects more than 80% of all dogs and cats over 3 years of age. Periodontal disease - which includes gum inflammation - is an infection of the soft tissues and bone surrounding the teeth. Caused by bacteria that accumulate in the mouth, it forms soft plaque that later hardens into tartar. If untreated, periodontal disease will become a painful condition that can cause trouble eating. In addition, this can eventually lead to the loss of teeth. Severe dental disease can spread bacteria to other parts of the body, causing illness.
Early detection of dental problems is critical to keeping the mouth comfortable and disease free. The first step is a careful veterinary examination. At our hospital, we thoroughly examine every dog and cat’s mouth as part of our general assessment. If we see a healthy mouth with no periodontal disease and minimal plaque buildup, we will recommend continued at-home dental care. If we detect problems, such as tartar buildup that can lead to more serious disease, we will recommend that we perform a dental cleaning known as a dental prophylaxis.
For some patients, good control of dental disease can be achieved by feeding the proper foods and by having their owners brush their teeth (for help on how to do this, please see the cat and dog care videos). As an added benefit, you will be better able to assess developing gingivitis or tartar accumulation as your pet becomes comfortable with you handling their mouth.
Professional Dental Cleaning
Large accumulations of tartar on the teeth can only be removed with a professional dental cleaning under a general anesthetic. If you believe your dog or cat has dental disease, please schedule an appointment to see one of our veterinarians. Don’t delay if you suspect developing disease.
We’ll perform a thorough health assessment, including an oral examination (in many cases, a complete oral exam requires a general anesthetic as those teeth are sharp!). The full extent of disease may not be apparent until during the dental procedure itself.
Pre-anesthetic blood testing helps ensure there are no other disease processes present, and that your pet is healthy before proceeding with anesthesia. We then schedule an appointment for a dental. Patients arrive on an empty stomach (no food after dinner time the night before) early in the morning on the day of the procedure, and are sent home in the late afternoon or early evening.
Dental x-rays are highly useful in assessing the health of the teeth below the gum-line. If extensive oral surgery is necessary, we may schedule a patient may return another day for that procedure.
The benefits of dental prophylaxis are immediately evident in reduced oral pain, improved ability to chew food, and improved breath. Continued home-care, including tooth brushing, is essential to slow the return of tartar.
Please contact us to discuss dental disease with a member of our health care team or to schedule an appointment for a dental consultation!
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