Ensuring Oral Health for Pets

Dentistry is an increasingly important field in veterinary science as we recognise the significant impact dental health can have on the overall well-being of the animals under our care.

Just like humans, pets require proper dental care for healthy teeth and gums, which directly affects their quality of life. Imagine the discomfort and unpleasantness of neglecting your own oral hygiene. Now, picture experiencing a severe toothache without being able to communicate it to anyone!

The development of dental disease typically begins with the accumulation of plaque, a combination of bacteria, food particles, and saliva components, on the teeth. If not removed, this plaque adheres above and below the gum line and hardens into tartar or calculus, appearing as a yellow-brown substance on the teeth. Over time, plaque and tartar can lead to periodontal disease, causing irreversible damage to the teeth and surrounding structures.

Periodontal disease can result in local issues such as inflamed and red gums, bad breath, and tooth loss. Furthermore, mounting evidence suggests a link between periodontal disease and systemic conditions in organs like the heart, liver, and kidneys. Dental disease is more than just a cosmetic concern – it can lead to significant illness and pain in dogs and cats.

Common signs of dental disease include:

  • Yellow-brown tartar around the gum line
  • Inflamed and red gums
  • Bad breath
  • Changes in eating or chewing habits (especially in cats)
  • Pawing at the face or mouth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Pain or bleeding when touching the gums or mouth

If your pet shows any of these signs, we recommend scheduling an appointment with one of our veterinarians. Early assessment and intervention can help save your pet's teeth. It is important to note that some animals with dental disease may not exhibit obvious signs, particularly in the early stages. Additionally, even if your pet is eating normally, they may still experience dental pain.

Some animals with dental disease may show no obvious signs particularly in the early stages. It is also important to remember that just because your pet is eating, it doesn’t mean they do not have dental pain.

How can I prevent dental disease?

As with most aspects of life, prevention is better than cure when it comes to dental disease. Regular attention to your pet's teeth can help avoid the need for professional dental cleanings under anesthesia and improve their overall health. Long-term control and prevention of dental disease require consistent dental homecare. Here are some methods to consider:

Daily brushing

Pet toothbrushes and toothpaste specifically formulated for pets are available. Avoid using human toothpaste as it is not safe for ingestion by pets.

Dental toys

Utilise special dental chews, toys, or diets that can help maintain dental cleanliness.

What does a professional dental clean involve?

A professional dental cleaning for pets is similar to a scale and polish performed by a dentist for humans. However, unlike humans, our pets are not able to sit still or open their mouths for a comprehensive examination or cleaning. Therefore, our pets require general anesthesia for a thorough dental clean. Your pet will need to be evaluated by one of our veterinarians to determine the extent of dental disease and the appropriate treatment.

The assessment may also involve a physical examination, as well as blood and urine tests to ensure your pet's overall health before administering anesthesia. Once under anesthesia, we can effectively clean your pet's teeth using specialised dental equipment. We will also discuss strategies for reducing dental disease in the future.

If you have any questions about dental care or professional cleanings, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to provide guidance and ensure the optimal oral health of your beloved pets.