Atascadero Pet Hospital

Jan 31, 2014 2:58 PM by Atascadero Pet Hospital; David Edsall, DVM

Dentistry for Dogs and Cats

Do you know what the most common Pet disease is? Gingivitis....the majority of our patients have some level of inflammation of the gingival or gum line. This can be mild or severe. More severe cases involve dental or periodontal diseases that affect the tooth itself or tissues that hold the teeth.

What is done to prevent dental disease?
The aim or goal with prevention is removal of the plaque or tartar that builds up easily on the surface or between the teeth and below the gum line. Generally there are many approaches to prevention of tartar accumulation that are recommended by the AVDC (American Veterinary Dental College). These include specific tartar removing diets, tooth brushing, oral rinses, and certain chew toys, chew bones and certain rawhides. Specific lists can all be found on the AVDC website or talk to your veterinarian.

What are the symptoms of Dental Disease?
Bad breathe, odor, red or bleeding gums, discolored, broken or fractured teeth, drooling sometimes and pain ... although dogs are often stoic and do not always outwardly show signs of pain.

How is dental disease treated?
Treatment involves, first of all, accurately identifying all problems. Usually each tooth gets fully examined and probed around the gum line and measurements are charted in a record. Sometimes dental x-rays are extremely helpful to look at what is happening below the field of view. The majority of time there is removal of plaque/ tartar that has often mineralized hard onto the tooth above and especially below the gum line. We are trying to improve the health of the gingival or gum line and periodontal tissues and also to decrease the amount of bacteria.

Severe dental disease can be quite involved. These teeth are often abscessed with unseen pockets of infection, abscessing roots, broken teeth or unhealthy resorbed bone holding the tooth. These can unfortunately necessitate extraction of that tooth. Because of the large root / tooth size, extraction may require sectioning the tooth to safely remove. As a whole, serious dental disease and treatment warrants appropriate pain management to make it more comfortable during and after treatment for our furry friends.

What do I do if I want my dogs teeth checked out?
Schedule an appointment to have your pets teeth checked awake, we will also perform a physical exam and discuss what is best for your pet. Sometimes other tests, such as blood work, may be used to ensure everything will go smoothly. We may recommend a dental prophylaxis or cleaning or more involved dentistry depending on what is found. Keep also in mind many of the most serious problems occur underneath the gum line and it is sometimes difficult to see without proper equipment and anesthesia to allow probing or x-rays.

What about new non-anesthetic dentals?
I think the benefit is considered as cosmetic only and is not a substitute or should not be confused with real dental treatments.

What is the goal of Veterinary dentistry?
The goal is definitely to enhance the health of all our family members. Dental disease has long been proven to affect our quality of life. The healthier your pet's mouth is throughout their life definitely helps them to live longer and stay healthier.

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