Dental Health

Dental Health

Just like humans, our pets are vulnerable to gum disease and problems with their teeth. Alarmingly, it is estimated that up to 80% of dogs and 70% of cats suffer from some form of dental disease by the age of three.

Dental disease typically begins with a build-up of plaque, consisting of bacteria, food particles and saliva components, on the teeth. Plaque sticks to the tooth surface above and below the gum line and if not removed will calcify into tartar (also known as calculus). This appears as a yellow-brown material on the teeth. Over time the plaque and tartar can result in periodontal disease, which can result in irreversible changes to the teeth and supportive structures.

 Periodontal disease can result in local problems, such as red and inflamed gums, bad breath, and the loss of teeth. There is also growing evidence that periodontal disease can be associated with disease in distant organs, including the heart, liver and kidneys. Ultimately, dental disease is more than just a cosmetic issue – it can be a cause of significant illness and pain in dogs and cats.

What if my pet has dental disease?

Firstly, you should have your pet's teeth examined by one of our veterinarians on a regular basis and if necessary, follow up with a professional dental clean. Your pet needs to be anaesthetised to carry out a thorough dental examination, and to clean all teeth without distressing them. Once anaesthetised, a complete dental examination is carried out. This process involves charting all present teeth and evaluating their condition, including the degree of tartar, gingivitis (gum inflammation) and any pockets in the gums around the teeth.


In some cases, gum surgery is required to close the holes left behind when a tooth is extracted, and dissolvable stitches are used for this procedure.
Once all dental work is completed, your pet may be given an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory injection, the anaesthetic gas is turned off, and your pet is allowed to wake up. Pets are generally able to go home on the same day.
Our own Dr Fiona McConnells chosen field of interest is Small Animal Dentistry. Beyond gaining her Bachelor degree in Veterinary Science (BVSc), Dr Fiona then has gone on to completing further studies, including a Post Grad Degree in Veterinary Science (GradCert VS) and also her Membership to the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists (MANZCVS) in Small Animal Dentistry & Oral Surgery. 

Following a professional dental clean, a dental homecare plan needs to be implemented to minimise build-up of plaque and tartar again. This may involve regular tooth brushing, and/or the feeding of special dental chews or diets.It is recommended that all pets be examined regularly after starting a dental homecare program to monitorits effectiveness.
How can I minimise ongoing dental disease?
Long-term control and prevention of dental disease requires regular dental home care. The best way to begin this is to acclimatise your pet from a young 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 as they are not designed to be swallowed and may be toxic to your pet.
We recommend and use specially designed diets and  dental chews all of which may help keep the teeth clean.
  • Dental chews such as Greenies, Oravet work mechanically to removed tartar and plaque from your pet’s teeth. 
  • Plaque Off is a food additive that works systemically to remove plaque and tartar from the teeth. This is a natural product that can be give daily to cats and dog (not to be given to thyroid patients)
  • Hills T/D and Hills Oral Care are the easiest and tastiest way to not only feed your pet but look after their teeth. A complete diet it can be feed to adult pets.
  • To fight off stinky breath Oral mouthwash such as Hexarinse or Maxigaurd can be used daily to reduce the bacteria from your pets’ mouth