Why is Dental Health Important?
Periodontal disease is the most common disease we see in our pets, affecting more than 80% of pets by the age of two! Dental disease can lead to pain, bad breath, and tooth loss. The infection present in diseased teeth can spread to the liver, kidneys, and heart and create systemic illness. Often pets do not show outward signs of dental disease (lack of appetite, difficulty chewing, etc) until the teeth are too diseased to save. Early veterinary dentist intervention and preventive cat and dog teeth care is the key!
What is Involved With a Dental Procedure at Friendship Hospital for Animals?
This is an anesthetized, comprehensive oral health examination, assessment, and treatment procedure.
Pet owners may have seen information promoting "anesthesia-free dentistry". Please know that this is not a true dental assessment and treatment, but merely manually scraping of tartar off of tooth surfaces in awake (and often frightened or uncooperative) pets. Even though the surfaces of the teeth will appear clean, this process often misses disease above the gum line which can cause devastating and permament tooth damage.
See this article on anesthesia-free tooth scaling by the American Veterinary Dental College for more details.
Please also see our Anesthesia page to learn more about how we work to make a comprehensive, anesthetized dental procedure as safe and effective as possible.
Every dental procedure at Friendship Hospital for Animals includes:
- Thorough physical examination by one of our caring veterinarians to determine the extent of dental disease present, and any other concerns to be addressed.
- Age-appropriate pre-anesthetic blood testing.
- IV catheter and IV fluids to help keep your pet hydrated and help maintain blood flow to critical organs like the kidneys and brain.
- Anesthesia drug protocol custom-designed for your pet to optimize anesthetic safety.
- Comprehensive anesthetic monitoring including heart rate and rhythm, respiration, blood oxygen, temperature, and blood pressure.
- Thorough oral examination, including measurement of gingival recession, probing for any infected gingival pockets, and checking for loose, fractured, or otherwise diseased teeth.
- Dental radiographs (x-rays) as determined necessary. We have digital dental radiography which allows for rapid, accurate assessment of the teeth and shorter anesthesia time as a result.
- Ultrasonic scaling of teeth both above and below the gumline.
- Polishing of all tooth surfaces to help protect and restore the enamel surface after scaling.
- Application of Oravet, a plaque-repelling gel.
- Complimentary nail trim and ear cleaning.
- Post-dental home care counseling to help keep your pet's mouth healthy at home.
How Do I Keep My Pet's Teeth Healthy at Home?
The key to a healthy mouth may start with a dental procedure here, but you are the key to helping those teeth stay healthy! With regular home dental care, the interval between anesthetized dental cleanings can be greatly lengthened and will keep your pet's mouth fresh-smelling and pain-free!
This is the number one way to help keep your pet's teeth and gums healthy. Plaque starts building up immediately after a meal and turns to hard, calcified tartar within 48 hours. This tartar creates an infection that weakens the gums, teeth, and jawbone. If it is allowed to progress, it can spread disease to the heart, liver, and kidneys. By brushing your pet's teeth daily, you can prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar and the progression of dental disease.
We can send you home with a tooth care kit that includes canine toothpaste, a finger brush, and a full-size toothbrush. Regular human toothpaste should not be used since animals don't know how to "spit" and it can cause stomach upset.
To start your pet on a toothbrushing routine, begin by allowing them to taste the toothpaste. Most pets enjoy it, as it is chicken or beef flavored! Place a small amount on your finger and massage it onto yout pet's teeth and gums. Once he/she seems comfortable, begin using the finger brush. For larger dogs, you can start to use the full-sized toothbrush. Make sure that the experience is a positive one for your pet. He/she should receive a lot of praise and treats before, during, and afterwards.
These toothpaste-impregnated rawhide chews can be given to dogs as a supplement to toothbrushing. They should be only given under close supervision to prevent choking or swallowing of large pieces.
These are dental bones to be used as a treat. They help to mechanically remove plaque and can be used as a supplement to brushing. They should also be used under supervision. Specialized Greenies treats are also available for our feline friends!
This enzymatic rinse helps to inhibit bacteria that aids in plaque formation. It can be added to your pet's drinking water (1 capful per quart of water) and is safe for use in dogs as well as cats. The water should be changed at least every other day to ensure the enzyme remains active.
Science Diet t/d (tartar diet)
This is a specially formulated prescription diet whose large kibble size and fiber structure allows it to act as an "edible toothbrush." These diets are available for both dogs and cats. Similar diets are available in the Eukanuba and Purina lines as well.