According to the AVMA, it is estimated that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of dental disease by 3 years of age. Dental disease is more than just “doggy breath”. The progression of gingivitis and periodontal disease can lead to infections of the heart valves, kidneys, and liver! These problems can be prevented with regular dental check-ups and dental cleanings. Concierge Veterinary Hospital of Naples offers comprehensive oral assessments and treatments, which includes ultrasonic cleaning and polishing, dental radiographs, and tooth extractions as needed. Our veterinarians can discuss home dental care options with you to help keep your pet’s teeth in the best possible condition. Between cleanings, you can brush your pet’s teeth at home to help keep them healthy all year long. There are also a variety of treats, toys and drinking water additives designed to help keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy.
Our process begins with an oral exam of your pet’s mouth by one of our veterinarian's. Radiographs may be needed to evaluate the health of the jaw and the tooth roots below the gum line. It is below the gum lime that where most dental disease begins. A thorough dental cleaning and evaluation are performed under anesthesia. Dental cleaning includes scaling to remove dental plaque and tartar and polishing, similar to the process used on your own teeth during your regular dental cleanings.
Oral health in dogs and cats
Your pet’s teeth should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.
Have your pet’s teeth checked sooner if you observe any of the following problems:
- Bad breath
- Broken or loose teeth
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar
- Abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth
- Reduced appetite or refusal to eat
- Pain in or around the mouth
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth
Some pets become irritable when they have dental problems, and any changes in your pet’s behavior should prompt a visit to your veterinarian. Always be careful when evaluating your pet’s mouth, because a painful animal may bite.
Causes of pet dental problems
Although cavities are less common in pets than in people, they can have many of the same dental problems that people can develop:
- Broken teeth and roots
- Periodontal disease
- Abscesses or infected teeth
- Cysts or tumors in the mouth
- Malocclusion, or misalignment of the teeth and bite
- Broken (fractured) jaw
- Palate defects (such as cleft palate)
Periodontal disease is the most common dental condition in dogs and cats – by the time your pet is 3 years old, he or she will very likely have some early evidence of periodontal disease, which will worsen as your pet grows older if effective preventive measures aren’t taken. Early detection and treatment are critical, because advanced periodontal disease can cause severe problems and pain for your pet. Periodontal disease doesn’t just affect your pet’s mouth. Other health problems found in association with periodontal disease include kidney, liver, and heart muscle changes.
we always provide a comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment plan for pets when their teeth are cleaned. Digital dental images with periodontal probing helps with our assessments. In fact, two thirds of our pets' teeth are under the gingiva (gums) and are not visible.
Digital dental radiographs allow assessment of:
- the teeth (fractures or internal disease)
- the surrounding soft tissues (periodontal disease, stomatitis, cysts, draining tracks, facial swellings, fistulas or tumors)
- the joints (TMJ or mandibular symphysis)
- the bone (jaw fractures)
X-rays allow us to find problems that need attention. Studies have shown that without dental images, significant problems are missed in up to 75% of pets.
We always diagnose first before creating a treatment plan for each patient. Digital dental images will help us do that by replacing a guess with a diagnosis, and allowing for the correct treatment to be optimally performed.
Why does dentistry require anesthesia?
When you go to the dentist, you know that what’s being done is meant to help you and keep your mouth healthy. Your dentist uses techniques to minimize pain and discomfort and can ask you how you are feeling, so you accept the procedures and do your best to keep still. Your pet does not understand the benefit of dental procedures, and he or she reacts by moving, trying to escape, or even biting.
Anesthesia makes it possible to perform the dental procedures with less stress and pain for your pet. In addition, anesthesia allows for a better cleaning because your pet is not moving around and risking injury from the dental equipment. If radiographs are needed, your pet needs to be very still in order to get good images, and this is unlikely without heavy sedation or anesthesia.
Although anesthesia will always have risks, it’s safer now than ever and continues to improve so that the risks are very low and are far outweighed by the benefits. Most pets can go home the same day of the procedure, although they might seem a little groggy for the rest of the day.