Dentistry is a rapidly growing area of veterinary science. We have seen a greater awareness over the last 25 years of its importance to the overall health of the animals we treat. Along with obesity, is among the leading cause of disease in pets.
For more information on horse dentistry please see our dedicated page.
Just like humans, pets’ teeth need looking after too! The health of their teeth and gum's has a significant impact on their overall quality of life. Imagine how your mouth would feel, and smell, if you never brushed your teeth. Imagine having a really bad toothache and not being able to tell anyone about it!
Dental disease begins with a build up of bacteria in your pet’s mouth. Bacteria, combined with saliva and food debris, can cause plaque to accumulate on the tooth. As calcium salts are deposited, plaque turns to tartar (brown or yellow material starting near the gum line of the tooth). Without proper preventive or therapeutic care, plaque and tartar build-up leads to periodontal disease, which affects the tissues and structures supporting the teeth. Periodontal disease can cause oral pain, tooth loss and even heart or kidney problems.
Common signs of dental disease include:
- Yellow-brown tartar around the gumline
- Inflammed, red gums (Gingivitis)
- Change in eating or chewing habits (especially in cats)
- Pawing at the face or mouth
- Pain or bleeding when you touch the gums or mouth
If your pet is showing any of these signs of dental disease please book an appointment to see one of our veterinarians. Early assessment and action can save your pet’s teeth!
How can I prevent dental disease?
Long-term control and prevention of dental disease requires regular home care. The best way to begin this is to accustom your pet from an early age. Dental home care may include:
- Brushing teeth daily – just like us! This is the best form of dental hygiene. Pet toothbrushes and toothpaste are now available. Please do not use human toothpaste formulas on your pet as they are not designed to be swallowed and may be toxic.
- Feed pets raw meaty bones or special dental diets. This can help reduce the accumulation of tartar.
- Hexarinse mouth wash - helps decrease the build-up or bacteria and food on teeth after eating.
- Consider dental toys, water additives, enzymatic chews, or teeth cleaning biscuits, all of which may help keep the teeth clean.
Regular and frequent attention to your pet's teeth may avoid the need for a professional dental clean under anaesthetic, and will also improve your pet's overall health.
What does a professional dental clean involve?
It is very similar to a scale and polish done by a dentist for us. However, unlike us, our pets won’t sit still or open their mouth to allow a comprehensive cleaning of their teeth (inside and outside the mouth surfaces). For this reason our pets need to have a general anaesthetic for a professional & complete dental clean. Your pet will need to be assessed by one of our veterinarians. The degree of dental disease will be assessed to determine if extractions, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories will be required. The assessment will also include a physical exam and may include blood tests and urine tests to ensure they are healthy prior to having an anaesthetic. Once anaesthetised, we can fully assess the teeth and give them a thorough cleaning using our specialised dental equipment. Sometimes dental radiographs will be recommended to assess the tooth health below the gum line.
When your pet goes home we will also discuss methods of reducing dental disease in the future.
Some people will chip the tartar from the tooth - we don't recommend this as not only is the plaque and bacteria left on the tooth & under the gum allowing reformation, but damage to the tooth enamel can also occur.
If you have any questions about dental care or professional cleaning please do not hesitate to contact us.