Dental disease is one of the most common medical conditions seen by veterinarians. The most common problems include gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums caused by the accumulation of plaque, which can develop into periodontal disease (affecting over 80% of dogs by the age of 3), and tooth resorption (affecting over 50% of cats by the age of 3).

Did you know that most pets over the age of 3 has some form of dental disease?  Could your pet be at risk?

Did you know that over 80% of dogs and over 50% of cats have gum disease by 3 years of age?  Dogs are 5 times more likely to have gum disease than people.  Another name for gum disease is periodontal disease.  This disease causes pain and discomfort in the mouth.  Not only that, it will also increase your pet’s risk of heart disease as well as kidney and liver disease.  How can we prevent, identify and treat?  Read on!

What is Gum Disease??

Gum disease occurs due to the body’s response to the chronic exposure of bacteria at the gum line.  It will cause pain, tooth loss and infection.

How can I tell if my cat or dog has dental disease?  One or more of the following signs could indicate gum disease. 

  • Bad breath or any odor from the mouth
  • Redness along the edge of gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Chewing on one side of the mouth
  • Nasal discharge
  • Pain
  • Sneezing
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Sometimes there are no overt signs even in the midst of dental disease

How do pets get gum disease?  Bacteria in plaque

What is plaque?  After eating, plaque forms on teeth-just as it does in people.  Plaque is the sticky, slimy film on teeth that is made up of bacteria, food particles and saliva.  Plaque is the perfect environment for bacterial micro-organisms.

What happens to plaque?  Without brushing, the plaque will harden within 48 hours.  Plaque hardens when enough time passes to combine with minerals from saliva.  This process takes as little as 47 hours.  Once the plaque hardens, it is called tartar, or calculus

Why is tartar bad?  Tartar has a rough surface that is the ideal place for even MORE plaque to form

What if it is left untreated?  The tartar and plaque accumulate no only on the tooth surface but also under the gum line.  There, it causes gum inflammation, infections and gradual loss of the attachments of the tooth the bones/skull. 

When should I get my dog’s teeth cleaned?  You should plan to get the cleaning done when your dog has Stage 1 disease.  This is the least expensive time to get the procedure done and this is at a point when the disease process reversible.  At Stage 3 and 4, your pet requires oral surgery.  This is not only more costly, it will require longer anesthetic time and thus, recovery.


4 Ways to help prevent or slow down gum disease

  1.  Brush your pet’s teeth daily.  There is nothing more beneficial.  We need to get rid of the plaque daily!
  2. Offer treats daily that help promote dental health.  We recommend the CET Hextra chews.  These chews have the same ingredient as rinses sent home with people who cannot brush their teeth temporarily after dental extractions.  It will significantly reduce plaque.
  3. Get regular check-ups with the veterinarian to assess dental health every 6 months to a year depending on your pets life stage and disease stage.  We will help create a plan unique for your pet. 
  4. Get appropriate cleaning done regularly to remove the tartar and bacteria load in the mouth.  This is the only way to get tarter off above AND below the gumline.  If your dog is at Stage 1, it is time for a cleaning

When does my pet need a teeth cleaning?

Teeth cleaning is needed when your pet has developed signs of dental, gum, or periodontal disease.  Any one of the following signs may indicate this disease:

  • Redness on gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Bad breath
  • Tartar that is so thick you cannot see the tooth underlying it.
  • Loose teeth
  • Nasal discharge
  • Sneezing
  • Blood on toys or in water bowl
  • Chewing on one side of the mouth

After a visit with one of our veterinarians, they will determine the severity of the disease as well as the need for a dental cleaning under anesthesia.


What happens during a dental cleaning?

For most people, the biggest barrier to getting a dental cleaning for their pet is the anesthesia required.  Luckily, dental cleanings here are done to avoid the greatest complications and to provide the safest environment as possible.   

For a dental cleaning, your pet will be in good hands with us for the entire day.  He or she will be dropped off in the morning to meet with one of our team members to fill out paperwork and to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Now, it’s off to visit the rest of the team to get ready for the day.  The doctor and the team will help assure safety under anesthesia by performing several pre-anesthetic procedures including:

  • Bloodwork
  • IV catheter placement
  • Pre-anesthetic physical exam
  • EKG-optional
  • Sedation for stress and anxiety-if needed
  • Dental Radiographs - optional

Once the doctor evaluates the results, they will contact you with any abnormalities or the procedure will move forward if everything is normal.

Your pet will be anesthetized and a tube is inserted in the wind pipe (trachea) to assure the safest anesthesia.  We do several things to assure your pets safety during a procedure.  They include:

  • Monitor
    • EKG
    • Heart rate
    • Respiratory rate,
    • Temperature
    • Blood pressure
    • Oxygen saturation
    • Depth of anesthesia. 
  • This is all tracked and monitored by an assistant assigned to your pet throughout the entire procedure. 
  • IV fluids administration
  • Temperature regulation and maintenance through heating system that assures your pet stays in the perfect temperature range-not too cold and not too hot.

You will receive a call if any unforeseen problems are found.  Because our pets will not permit a thorough evaluation of the mouth while awake, it is not uncommon to find problems once we have them anesthetized and get the opportunity to probe and examine the oral cavity fully.  The mouth is charted during this time-a procedure where we probe and evaluate the individual health of the teeth inside the mouth.  This documentation as well as the dental radiographs that assess the roots and the bone surrounding the roots, help us make recommendations on the needs that exist. 

If extractions are necessary, we will provide local anesthesia-just like you would get at your dentist so that they can wake up without the shock of pain upon recovery.  Medications such as antibiotics and pain medications may go home with your pet dependent upon the disease found and the need for comfort after extractions.

After recovery from the anesthesia, we will call to set up a pick up time.  When your pet is picked up, you will have an opportunity to review what was done and to have your questions and concerns answered.  We will send home instructions as well as a copy of what was done. 

We offer a full service dental facility equipped with digital dental radiographs, ultrasonic scalers and monitoring devices to assure the safest and most thorough cleaning.    We are here to answer any questions and to discuss any concerns you may have.  Please contact us to schedule an evaluation.

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