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CLARK ANIMAL HOSPITAL
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Canine & Feline Dental Health
Do most pets have dental problems? Dental disease is the most common disease in dogs and cats. Over 68% of all pets over the age of three have some form of periodontal or dental disease. Most pets will show few signs of dental disease. It is up to the pet’s family and veterinarian to uncover this hidden and often painful condition.
What can happen if I do not have my pet's teeth routinely cleaned?
Periodontal disease and Gingivitis can lead to Bone Loss, Heart Disease (endocardiosis), Kidney Infections, Pancreatic Infections, Liver Infections, and Shortening of Life Span.
What is periodontal disease? Periodontal disease is a term used to describe inflammation or infection of the tissues surrounding the tooth. Accumulation of tartar and calculus on the teeth contributes to gum recession around the base of the tooth. Infection soon follows and the gums recede, exposing sensitive unprotected tooth surfaces. Untreated infection then spreads into the tooth socket and ultimately the tooth loosens and is lost.
What is dental tartar and how can I prevent it? The mouth of all mammals is home to thousands of bacteria. Many of these bacteria will breed on the surfaces of the tooth and form an invisible layer called plaque or biofilm. Some of this is removed naturally by the pet’s tongue and chewing habits but if allowed to remain on the tooth surface, the plaque thickens, becomes mineralized and is then visible as tartar and ultimately calculus. The tartar presses on the gums, which recede, causing inflammation and infection called gingivitis. The gums continue to recede until ultimately the tooth socket is infected and the tooth is lost.
As the oral infection increases, tonsillitis and pharyngitis can also occur. In addition, the bacteria are absorbed into the blood stream and can be carried to other organs. Heart valve infections (endocardiosis or endocarditis), kidney and liver problems are frequently caused by “bad teeth”.
What is involved with a dental cleaning for my cat or dog? The goal of dental scaling and polishing is to remove the tartar and invisible plaque. Clark Animal Hospital will perform pre-anesthetic blood tests to ensure that kidney and liver function are satisfactory for anesthesia. Sometimes antibiotic treatment is instituted before a full dental prophylaxis is carried out. Clark Animal Hospital will discuss the specific pre-dental recommendations for your pet.
Tooth scaling will be performed using both hand scalers and ultrasonic cleaning equipment to remove tartar both above and below the gum line. The tartar beneath the gum line causes the most significant gum recession. The teeth are then polished in order to help prevent subsequent plaque build-up. It may be necessary to carry out other procedures such as extractions at the same time. Special applications such as fluoride, antibiotic preparations and cleaning compounds may be indicated to decrease tooth sensitivity, strengthen enamel and reduce plaque accumulation and bacterial infection.
These procedures will be fully discussed both before your pet’s dental cleaning and when you bring your pet in for the procedure. Since it can be difficult to predict the extent of dental disease in advance of the procedure, it is imperative that a Clark Animal Hospital representative is able to reach you during the procedure to discuss any additional treatment that may be necessary.
Do I have to make an appointment for my dog to have a dental scaling and polishing? Yes. Clark Animal Hospital will perform pre-anesthetic blood tests, examine your pet for any other underlying disorders prior to the procedure, and determine if antibiotic treatment should be started in advance.
How can I prevent tartar formation on my cat or dog's teeth? After your pet's teeth have been cleaned, we recommend beginning home dental care to help reduce plaque and tartar buildup. Below are some great recommendations to help maintain dental health in your pet. Feel free to stop by our hospital and we will let you know which is best for your pet.
As part of the home dental care, we recommend that you feed your pet a veterinary-approved dental diet such as Prescription Diet® t/d®. Diets like this one have been shown to greatly reduce plaque formation and tartar buildup because of it’s kibble’s special fiber matrix that scrubs the exposed tooth surface like an edible toothbrush, reducing bacteria-laden plaque. By preventing plaque as it forms, tartar buildup is greatly diminished. Clark Animal Hospital carries a full stock of both feline and canine Prescription Diet t/d pet food.
Brushing your pet's teeth is another effective means of removing plaque before it turns into tartar. We recommend using a toothpaste made especially for pets. Brushing should be done at least twice weekly (preferably daily), but we understand that not all pets will tolerate it. Special finger brushes are made that make this task easier for you and your pet.
Use a daily oral rinse which is available at Clark Animal Hospital. This type of product helps reduce the bacterial count in the mouth, resulting in improved breath and lower plaque buildup.
Having Clark Animal Hospital perform regular professional dental cleaning under general anesthesia every six to twelve months or at the first sign of tartar buildup is extremely beneficial to most pets. This will prevent damage to the gums and tooth roots, maintain good oral health, help prevent periodontal disease, and help maintain fresh breath.