Did you know the following?:
- 80% of pets over the age of 3 have some degree of dental disease.
- Bacteria from the teeth can cause problems with the liver, kidneys and heart.
- Dental disease can cause significant pain – just like in people.
Here at Indian Valley Animal Hospital, we take dental care very seriously. Small dogs tend to be more prone to dental problems, but all dogs (and cats!) can be affected.
Dogs can break their teeth from chewing things like antlers, bones, and rocks.
Cats tend to get neck lesions (small spots of enamel loss) that are very painful. They are also prone to stomatitis which is severe inflammation of the tissues in the mouth.
Dental examinations and cleanings are a day procedure (pets come in the morning and go home in the evening) and are done under general anesthesia. Blood work prior to anesthesia is required. This will determine if a patient is healthy enough for anesthesia. All patients have an IV catheter placed and are on IV fluids during a dental. Close monitoring of a patient is done by an experienced veterinary nurse throughout the procedure. We use an EKG, pulse ox, blood pressure and heat support during anesthesia.
Dental x-rays are taken (just like when we go to the dentist!) during a dental examination. X-rays can uncover disease that is underneath the gum where we can’t see it.
Figure 1 has a smaller healthy tooth on the left next to a larger tooth with bone loss between the roots (the black area) on the right.
Figure 2 has two unhealthy teeth on the left with bone loss between the roots (the black area) next to a larger, healthier tooth on the right.
If your pet has bad breath, it probably has dental disease. Here are some before and after pictures of a dog’s teeth. Imagine what the breath smelled like before the cleaning vs after the cleaning!
What you can do to minimize dental disease in your pet
- Brush their teeth daily (if they will let you.) Use a regular toothbrush or a finger toothbrush (good for cats and smaller dogs.) Use CET toothpaste. This is a dog and cat toothpaste that has enzyme action to soften tartar, doesn’t contain fluoride (we don’t want pets swallowing too much fluoride) and it comes in flavors pets like (poultry, beef, vanilla mint and seafood.)
- Avoid bones, antlers, or other hard objects that might break teeth.
- Give dental treats or chews. Oravet is a good product to try.
- Visit your veterinarian regularly for exams and recommendations for what is best for your pet.
Janice Wilson, DVM, is the Chief of Staff at Indian Valley Animal Hospital. She received both her undergraduate and veterinary degrees from Texas A&M University, graduating from veterinary school second in her class.