Dental Care

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have oral disease by the age of 3, and it is the most frequently diagnosed health problem in pets. Can you imagine what your mouth would be like if you never brushed? A veterinarian should evaluate your pet’s dental health at least once a year. We recommend this because bacteria and food debris accumulates around a pet’s teeth and, if left untreated, will lead to deterioration of the soft tissue and bone surrounding the teeth.  This decay results in irreversible periodontal disease and even tooth loss.

 There are other reasons why you should pay close attention to your pet’s dental health. Dental disease can affect other organs in the body: bacteria in the mouth can get into the blood stream and may cause serious kidney infections, liver disease, lung disease, and heart valve disease. Oral disease can also indicate that another disease process is occurring elsewhere in a pet’s body. A thorough physical exam combined with appropriate laboratory work can determine if this is the case.

What are the symptoms and signs of periodontal disease to watch for?

Bad breath (halitosis)

Plaque and tartar build-up (the brown gunk on your pet’s teeth)

Red and swollen gums

Broken tooth/teeth

Excessive drooling, blood tinged drool

Reluctance to eat, especially dry food, or to play with chew toys

Chewing with or favouring one side of the mouth, painful chewing

Pawing at or rubbing the muzzle/mouth

Bleeding from the mouth

Swollen/draining tracts under (or in front of) the eye

Sudden change in behaviour (aggressive or withdrawn)

Chronic eye infections or drainage with no exact cause or cure

Inability to open or close the mouth, reluctance to touch or handling of mouth

Discoloured tooth/teeth

Abnormal discharge from nose

A mass/growth in the mouth

 

Many dogs and cats can have significant oral disease (abscessed or fractured teeth) without showing ANY outward signs of discomfort, even though oral disease is very painful for your pet.

The procedure for cleaning your pet’s teeth (called a dental prophy) is no different from that which we experience at our own dentist. The only complication is that our pets won’t just sit still and say “Ahh”! A general anesthetic is required in order to safely scale, probe, assess and polish all surfaces of all of the teeth. We also take routine digital oral x-rays to ensure your pet’s teeth are healthy above and below the gum line. We use ultrasound to clean each tooth thoroughly - above and below the gum line.  Our veterinarians and technicians polish teeth to create a smooth, lustrous tooth surface that is more resistant to plaque buildup. Fluoride treatments help strengthen enamel and reduce tooth sensitivity. Advanced dental care is available, including root canals, caps and braces through specialist referral.

 Providing a variety of safe chew toys and, if and when possible, practicing a routine of regular brushing can help decrease the number of dental procedures your pet requires in a lifetime.

What toys are bad for teeth?

Real bones, hard plastic chew toys, nylon bones, compressed rawhide bones, cow hooves (can cause cuts from their sharp edges), pig ears (can be a source of salmonella infection), antlers

Dentabones are made from compressed rice flour that has resulted in dental fractures – the manufacturer has said that the product can become hard as stone if improperly stored, but proper storage remains unclear

Rope toys can cause gingival lacerations and dental fractures when dogs aggressively tug on them and can cause wearing of the enamel of the teeth

Ice cubes can cause fractures, gingival lacerations

Rocks are just all over bad

Tennis balls can cause significant dental abrasion, wearing down of the enamel of the tooth

Human toothpastes are also not good for pets as they are not meant to be swallowed (and good luck getting your pet to spit!), swallowing can cause vomiting due to the presence of detergents – plus animals like the taste of pet toothpaste better