We recommend having your pet’s teeth checked and cleaned at least
ONCE A YEAR.
Dental care is an important and often overlooked factor in keeping your pet healthy and happy. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by three years of age. Consistent home dental care and routine professional examinations can help prevent problems like bad breath or oral infections.
Good dental hygiene and regular teeth cleanings can increase your pet’s health, vitality, and well-being — and add additional years to his or her life. If left untreated, dental disease can not only be painful and inhibit proper nutrition, but it can also lead to serious systemic issues that may threaten your pet’s health before symptoms are noticeable. For example, oral bacteria that enters the bloodstream can damage your pet’s kidneys, heart, or liver. Proper dental care not only prevents dental and systemic disease; it also helps minimize the lifetime cost of care for your pet.
SIGNS YOUR PET NEEDS DENTAL CARE
There are many ways to check and see if your pet may be having dental issues, but there are also signs that may not be as visible. This is why veterinarians recommend having your pet’s teeth checked annually. Here are some things to keep an eye (or nose) out for:
Broken, loose, or missing teeth
Discoloration or tartar build up
Excessive chewing or drooling
Reduced appetite or inability to chew
Swelling and bleeding in or around the mouth
Common Pet Dental Care Questions
At Pet Townsend Veterinary Clinic, our veterinarians take a comprehensive, patient-centric approach to dental care, starting with a complete oral examination followed by a thorough cleaning.
Your pet’s complete oral examination includes:
- Oral examinations under anesthesia
- Diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease
- Digital x-rays
- Supra and subgingival scaling
- Tooth extractions (when necessary/indicated)
We offer digital dental radiology, which produces high-definition images of your pet’s teeth. More accurate than traditional radiology, digital dental radiology produces clear images of the area below and above your pet’s gum line in order to diagnose dental disease that cannot be seen by visual examination alone. This is a powerful tool for enabling the treatment of dental disease before it progresses and becomes more difficult and expensive to treat.
Should we find any issues, such as evidence of gum or tooth erosion, gingivitis, or excessive plaque buildup, we will discuss this with you along with treatment options. Our veterinarians are experienced dental practitioners, capable of offering a number of dental procedures and oral surgeries.
Our pets have a strong instinct to hide pain, so this can be difficult to recognize. Many times, they will mask the pain and owners may not even notice a difference in their pet’s eating or day-to-day routines. This is why our pets will continue eating, even if their teeth look or smell bad. Some lesser-known indications of pain include increased licking, altered or heavy breathing, changes in posture, and changes in sleep habits.
If your pet requires tooth extraction, we provide “dental blocks,” for additional pain control. This is similar to techniques used in human dentistry, where local anesthesia is injected under the gums in addition to general anesthesia so that our patients wake up comfortably.
While nothing can take the place of regular dental checkups and cleanings, ongoing follow-up oral care at home is just as important in controlling plaque and tartar formation.
The goal of home dental care is to remove plaque before it mineralizes into calculus (tartar), a process that occurs within days of teeth cleaning. Brushing your pet’s teeth is the single most important procedure you can do to maintain good oral health. If performed regularly, brushing dramatically decreases the incidence of gingivitis and increases the interval between teeth cleaning appointments.
Brushing your pet’s teeth is best started at a young age (before adult teeth erupt). The younger the animal, the more likely he or she is to accept a teeth brushing regimen. Regular brushing not only keeps your pet’s teeth clean and healthy; it also enhances the bond between you and your pet. If you are unsure about how to brush your pet’s teeth, please ask a member of our staff. We are happy to instruct and/or demonstrate the best and easiest method. Also, please remember to always use toothpaste specifically made for pets (not people). If brushing your pet’s teeth is not possible, ask a staff member to help you select the most effective dental products for your pet.
The following symptoms are signs of poor oral health:
- Persistent bad breath — one of the first signs of dental disease
- Tartar or plaque buildup (ask your veterinarian how to identify them)
- A yellowish-brown crust of plaque on the teeth near the gum line
- Red and swollen gums
- Pain or bleeding when your pet eats or when the mouth or gums are touched
- Pawing at the mouth
- Decreased appetite or difficulty eating
- Loose or missing teeth
If you notice any of the above, please contact us to make a dental appointment for your pet.