Suburban Animal Hospital Oral & Dental Health
Pet Dental Care: Keeping Teeth Sparkling
Dental disease is a common problem in dogs and cats. Imagine how your teeth would look and feel if you didn't brush them daily.
Periodontal (gum) disease is one of the most common diseases we diagnose in pets today. Plaque and tartar that build up on your pet's teeth harbor bacteria, infecting gum tissue and the roots of the teeth. This causes bad breath, pain, disease, and tooth loss. Even worse these bacteria enter the bloodstream through the gums, resulting in certain heart, liver, and kidney diseases. The most important part of the procedure is the cleaning of areas below the gum line (periodontal work). In order for us to do this, anesthesia is necessary.
While there is always a degree of risk with any anesthetic procedure, precautionary measures are taken to minimize the risk and ensure your pet's safety. Blood is drawn prior to anesthesia to evaluate blood cell counts and chemistries. This tells us whether the vital organs used to metabolize the anesthetics are working properly. Our hospital also uses the most progressive anesthetics available to make the procedure as safe as possible. The anesthesia used is metabolized quickly by your pet so he/she will be alert and ready to go home soon after the surgery.
State of the art equipment is also used along with highly trained technicians to monitor your pet through the entire procedure and during recovery.
There are three steps in the cleaning process:
- Scaling removes the tartar above and below the gum line. This is done with hand instruments and ultrasonic cleaning equipment.
- Polishing smoothes the surface of the teeth, making them more resistant to additional plaque formation.
- Flushing not only removes the dislodged tartar from the teeth, but helps to rinse away bacteria as well.
When periodontal disease is left untreated, the removal of infected or damaged teeth is sometimes necessary. However, our goal is to save as many of your pet's teeth as we can. Dental radiographs (x-rays) provide us with a clear view of the jaw bone and tooth root health. We can then make the best decisions regarding the care of each tooth.
Our hospital also offers the option of using a sealant on your pet's teeth to help prevent new bacteria from adhering to tooth surfaces. Maintaining good oral hygiene takes some commitment from you, the owner. Dental mapping is done during the procedure to pinpoint areas of the mouth that will need special attention for good maintenance. While tooth brushing is best, there are many products available to aid in home dental care. Please refer to our home dental care page for more information and ask our staff about the option that will work best for you and your pet.
Pet Dental Home Care
We now realize maintaining your pet's oral health will add quality and quantity to his or her lifetime. Other benefits are less pain and better smelling breath, which leads to a better relationship with you. Just as in people, the soft plaque starts to build up on your pet's teeth within 24 hours. Therefore, daily brushing is the ideal goal. We are here to assist you in becoming successful.
- Start today - it is easy to put this off. If your pet just had a teeth cleaning, wait one week for gums to be less tender.
- Begin by introducing a tasty treat (e.g., tuna juice, cream cheese, beef broth, etc.) on a piece of gauze or finger brush into the side of the mouth.
- Have your pet on a raised, slick surface if feasible (e.g., washer/dryer, bench, counter, etc.).
- Perform the ritual of teeth brushing along with another activity you are already in the habit of doing daily (e.g., feeding, brushing, watching the news, etc.).
- After your pet looks forward to the daily enjoyable treat in the mouth, then start the brushing motion on the side of the upper jaw teeth.
- When you and your pet are successful and enjoying the above, graduate to a toothbrush with pet toothpaste. Brushing motion is at a 45º angle to the tooth.
We want to help you with this 30 to 60 second daily commitment in any way we can. Please ask us for help, advice or a demonstration.
We recommend 5 to 6 kibbles of T/D Prescription Diet daily to help in plaque control. We also offer other options such as CET enzymatic chews, OxyFresh drinking water additive, and CHX Guard gel to assist in periodontal disease control for both dogs and cats. Please ask us for help in choosing the right product for your pet.
Dogs have many chew toy options - we recommend Dental Kongs, Plaque Attackers, rope chew toys and Gumabones (available through your local pet store). We have seen damaged teeth in dogs chewing on bones, sticks and rocks. Some dogs experience intestinal problems after chewing on pig's ears, hooves or rawhide chews.