Pet Dental Care - Keeping your Pets' Teeth Healthy
Dental disease is one of the most common ailments in pets due to a combination of dietary and genetic factors. We provide pet dental care examinations and treatments. Things such as scaling and polishing of teeth ought to be a routine part of keeping the mouth of your pet pain-free, healthy, preventing periodontal disease, and unnecessary tooth loss.
If you have ever had a dental problem yourself, you will be aware it can be excruciating. Unfortunately, pets cannot vocalise the pain caused by dental issues. Gingivitis is the first step on the road to periodontal disease, which is painful and ultimately irreversible if left too long. Infections associated with dental disease can gradually cause damage to the vital organs in your pet's body through bacteraemia.
Once we perform pet dental cleanings and other dental procedures, we hope you continue proper pet dental care at home. Our veterinarians can show you how to brush your pet’s teeth to reduce the need for dental interventions in the future. We can also discuss other ideas to keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy.
Pet Dental Care:
Many pet owners report that their pet appears significantly happier after dental work has been done, reflecting the underlying pain resolving.
Treating Dogs and Cats For Dental Disease
Dogs and cats can be very good at hiding signs of oral pain and dental disease. Some animals with severe dental disease, including root exposure, severe gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), and tooth root infections, will continue to eat, showing only subtle signs that something is wrong. This often leads to an animal requiring multiple extractions of teeth, we can combat this by providing daily tooth brushing
What are the signs of dental disease in pets?
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Visible tartar build-up on teeth
- Red or inflamed gums (gingivitis)
- Discoloured teeth
- Loose teeth
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Slowness or reluctance to eat
- Chewing on one side of the mouth
- Dropping food from the mouth when eating
- Swelling around the mouth (from potential tooth root abscesses)
Why does dental disease occur?
Food and saliva that is left behind on the teeth will form plaque on the tooth. Plaque is soft and can be removed by brushing or using alternative dental products.
If not removed, the plaque will harden forming tartar, which is difficult to remove without dentistry intervention. If tartar is not removed (normally via dental de-scaling) then bacteria will spread below the gum line, causing red sore gums. This is called gingivitis and periodontitis, which in turn can lead to loss of teeth, infection of the tooth root and jawbone infections.
Cats also get another form of dental disease known as feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORLs). It has an unknown cause, but 75% of cats are thought to be affected. It is particularly common in cats over five years but can occur at any age.
In these lesions, part of the tooth is eaten away by the tooth itself, forming a small hole in the enamel close to the gum line. These lesions are very painful for cats and can lead to tooth fractures as they weaken the teeth. They require extraction to resolve.
What Can I Do To Keep My Pets Teeth Healthy?
The best way to maintain healthy teeth is to brush your pet's teeth daily. This is easiest to start when your pets are younger but can be introduced at any age. The team would be happy to help with advice on introducing this to your cat or dog.
It can also be beneficial to have a scale and polish performed regularly to clean the teeth thoroughly. This is similar to the treatment we would receive from a dental hygienist. These are done under a short general anaesthetic as our patients won’t sit in one position for a prolonged period and we must ensure their safety and the team’s safety when in the vicinity of sharp teeth!
Vet Dentistry - Emergency Dental Work
We understand that many pet owners occasionally face an emergency when their pet breaks or injures a tooth and need to see a vet for dental care treatments. We have the right equipment and tools for emergency dental work.
Our emergency dental work is done to a high clinical standard, and the following is included (as applicable):
- Dental x-rays are carried before teeth are extracted.
- IV fluids (if needed), enhancing anaesthetic safety and speeding recovery
- Dental nerve blocks to provide excellent pain relief for pets having extractions
- Teeth are extracted surgically (where appropriate) so the gum is stitched closed.
Dog & Cat Dentistry - Ongoing Care and Recommendations
Pet dental health is particularly important for each pet’s lifelong, overall health. The vet dentist team at Blythwood recommends ongoing, at-home pet dental care to preserve your pet’s oral well-being. We recommend a range of select dental health care products, which are used by veterinarians with our pets. These include pet toothpaste and products that are easy to use, such as treats, supplements, and more! There are liquids that can be added to your pet’s water to help reduce plaque build-up and reduce bad breath (halitosis) as well as veterinary dental diets. We can help you choose and utilise the best products for your pet’s lifestyle and needs.
Pet Dental Care FAQs
What is dental disease?
Dental disease can vary from mild to severe. In the early stages of dental disease plaque and tartar begin to build on the surface of the tooth. As plaque and tartar continue to build the gum around the tooth can become inflames (gingivitis). Left untreated, the inflamed gum will begin to recede, exposing the root of the tooth. Ultimately the tooth may be lost. Dental disease can occur following trauma where a tooth is fractures
Is my pet in pain if they have dental disease?
Yes. Your pet’s teeth are made up in the same way as our teeth with the same nerves and sensations. They experience dental pain in the same way as we do. However, pets are very good at hiding this pain and it can often be difficult to identify they are in pain.
Who will check if my pet has dental disease?
Our nurses can assess your pet’s teeth for free during a dental clinic and are fully trained in advising you on techniques to help care for them. In addition, our vets will check your pet’s teeth at each of their examinations for vaccinations or other problems.
What happens during my pet’s dental care?
At the start of your pet’s treatment, we will chart your pet’s mouth. This is a process where we individually assess each tooth and the gums and record any abnormalities. Charting your pet’s teeth ensures no problems are missed and acts as a record if further investigation treatment is required. You will also receive a copy of this chart for your own records. The vet doing your pet’s dental care will then call you to discuss the findings in your pet’s mouth and to recommend what dental treatment is required. You will also be given costs of all treatments. As will all operations your pet will be carefully monitored throughout their anaesthetic.
What is scale and polish procedure?
As with people, a scale and polish involve an ultrasonic scaler held gently against the teeth. The scaler will gently vibrate against the teeth to remove tartar. A high-speed polisher is then used to ensure your pet’s teeth are left smooth and clean. (All patients who require other dental treatment will also have their teeth scaled and polished).
When are dental x-rays taken?
If we are concerned about a tooth showing early signs of decay, we may take an x-ray of the tooth as your own dentist would do. The x-ray allows us to examine the portion of the tooth under the gum (the root) to identify if it’s healthy or not. This information will be used to determine the best treatment for that tooth.
What do dental extractions involve?
In short, dental extractions mean removing teeth. This is only done when a tooth is diseased and, if left in the mouth, will cause further problems. At Blythwood Vets we use surgical extractions to carefully remove teeth which are diseased. This means we use surgical techniques to safely remove the tooth, minimising trauma to the gums and other structures in the mouth. We will then suture the gum. For your pet this means minimal trauma in their mouth and quicker healing time.
What if my pet requires more advanced dental treatment?
On occasion your pet may require more advanced dental techniques such as root canal treatment. These advanced procedures can help to prevent teeth which are showing early signs of disease and can help prevent extractions. If this is required, we can discuss referral options for your pet