Dentistry

The Tooth of the Matter

People respond differently when told their pets need dental care—some are amused, some don’t believe it and some take it to heart. The truth is that pets actually have a higher incidence of dental disease than humans. Of all pets over two years old, 85 percent have some form of dental disease. 

Periodontal disease is a progressive, gradual destruction of the gums caused by bacteria. This dental disease can be life threatening because dangerous bacteria can enter the bloodstream and wreak havoc in your pet’s internal organs. The fact is that dental disease can kill. 

If your pet has bad breath, periodontal disease may be the cause. Any build up of yellowish or brownish material on the teeth is calculus, tartar or plaque—all signs of periodontal disease which should be checked by one of our doctors. During your pet’s examination, the doctor will evaluate your pet’s current dental health condition and give you a dental report card. 

If it is determined that a dental treatment is in order, we can schedule a dental cleaning and polishing. Anesthesia is required for this because your pet won’t hold still and open wide on command. While your pet is under anesthesia, we will also perform a thorough exam, take x-rays if required, and perform any additional services, such as extractions.

Your pet may require fewer cleanings and enjoy good breath with daily brushing using toothpaste and toothbrush especially for pets. OCVH also has special treats and chews that help lessen the buildup of tartar on your pet’s teeth. By taking good care of your pet’s teeth, you can enhance your pet’s overall health so you can enjoy each other longer!

Your Pet’s Dental Procedure

The dental prophylaxis (cleaning) is a complete procedure involving many steps. Your pet is under general anesthesia to provide the best dental care for the teeth and gums. This standard of care involves:
  1. Pre-anesthetic examination and blood tests.
  2. IV catheter and fluid administration for safety.
  3. Anesthetic induction and monitoring using modern techniques, drugs and equipment.
  4. Assessment of entire oral cavity including lips, gums tongue, all tooth surfaces, tooth mobility, subgingival calculus (tartar below the gum line) and periodontal pockets.
  5. Hand instruments and an ultrasonic scaler are used to remove tartar and calculus.
  6. Full-mouth digital dental x-rays are taken, if needed.
  7. Hopelessly diseased teeth are extracted when necessary and appropriate measures are taken to ensure your pet remains comfortable and pain free.
  8. A special paste and machine is used to polish the teeth to decrease future plaque build-up.
  9. When needed, periodontal pockets are packed with a special antibiotic to reduce infection and help preserve the tooth and surrounding tissues.
  10. A chlorhexidine mouth rinse is flushed along the gum line to decrease bacteria in the oral cavity.
  11. Finally, in dogs, a fluoride treatment is applied to the teeth to reduce decay and plaque formation.
  12. Your pet then recovers from anesthesia while being closely monitored.

With severe dental disease your pet may experience some oral discomfort following cleaning. Pain management medications are administered in the hospital and dispensed for home administration. In some cases, soft food is recommended for several days after the dental.

Since large amounts of bacteria can be dislodged from the teeth during dental procedures, antibiotics may be sent home to help prevent infection. 

Home care to reduce future plaque formation includes brushing the teeth with C.E.T. Veterinary Toothpaste. Human toothpaste is not recommended since pets will swallow it and the ingested fluoride could be harmful. Nolvadent veterinary mouthwash can also be used to rinse teeth. Other products used to reduce the build-up of plaque are Hills t/d Prescription Diet and C.E.T. Dog Chews or C.E.T. Forte Cat Chews.

Pets over two years of age should have their teeth examined regularly to determine if a cleaning and other dental procedures are required. Some pets have a genetic tendency for recurrent dental disease may need their teeth cleaned every six months to one year.

At Home Dental Care for Your Pet

Introduce a brushing program to your pet gradually. At first, dip a finger into pet dental toothpaste and rub gently over the pet’s mouth and teeth. Make the initial sessions short and positive. Gradually, introduce gauze over the finger and gently scrub the teeth in a circular motion. Finally, you can introduce a soft toothbrush. Use a sensitive or ultra-soft brush designed for people or a brush specifically designed for pets. Special pet toothbrushes are available from your veterinarian.

Brushing is the best method of preventive dental care for dogs and cats. But some pets will not tolerate routine brushing. For such pets, mouth washes, gels, special chews and water additives are helpful alternatives.

Feed a nutritionally balanced diet. There are specially formulated dog and cat foods that provide delicious dental benefits. These foods are available through OCVH and can actually reduce the accumulation of plaque and tartar.