Dentistry is a rapidly growing area of veterinary science. There has been a growing awareness over the past 25 years of the importance of good dental care to the overall health of the animals we treat.
Just like humans' teeth, pets’ teeth need looking after too! The health of their teeth and gums 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. These bacteria combine with saliva and food debris to 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. This, in turn, can cause oral pain, tooth loss and even heart or kidney problems.
Common signs of dental disease, in order of severity, include:
Yellow-brown tartar around the gumline
Inflamed, red gums
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 to accept dental care procedures 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.
Use dental toys, enzymatic chews, or teeth cleaning biscuits, such as greenies or dentasticks, 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 the same as a scale and polish of human teeth done by a dentist. However, because pets won’t sit still or open their mouth to allow a comprehensive cleaning of their teeth, they need to be anaesthetised to enable a professional dental clean to be undertaken. Your pet will need to have its dental health assessed by one of our veterinarians to determine if extractions, antibiotics and/or anti-inflammatories will be required.
The assessment may also include a total physical examination, as well as blood and urine tests to ensure they are fit to be administered with anaesthetic. Once anaesthetised, the teeth will be thoroughly cleaned using specialised dental equipment. Prior to discharge, we will also discuss methods of reducing dental disease in the future.
If you have any questions about dental care or professional cleaning please do not hesitate to contact us.