Oral hygiene is as important in pets as it is in people, mouth disease affects the whole body and it is so important to keep it under control. Dogs and cats develop plaque and tartar which can lead to a variety of mouth problems including gingivitis, tooth root abscesses and tooth loss, but can also spread bacteria via the blood stream to affect important organs like the heart and kidney.
As with all things, prevention is better than cure and we stock preventative dental hygiene products as well as offering professional examination, scale, extractions (if necessary) and polishing of teeth.
An estimated 80% of pets over 3 years old will have some form of dental disease, with many owners only becoming aware that their pet is in trouble when they notice the bad breath. Dogs’ breath should not smell and an unpleasant odour is a sure sign that something is amiss.
Tartar (mineral deposits) & plaque (a soft film of microorganisms) build up on the teeth, causing painful irritation to the gums (gingivitis). The gums then recede exposing the roots, this lead to infection and tooth loss. Infection within the mouth will be picked up by the blood stream and can actually poison other parts of the body causing kidney, liver and heart disease.
Tartar formation can be worsened by malformations in the jaws and teeth. Misaligned teeth, as found in dogs with overshot or undershot jaws, or where retained deciduous teeth have caused teeth to come down in the wrong place, all worsen tartar formation.
Professional dental care
The first step is a consultation to assess the teeth and make a plan for the individual pet.
In mild cases, dental plaque can be removed by feeding your pet the correct diet and brushing.
If plaque is not removed it hardens and becomes tartar which is brown, rock hard and difficult to remove. Once your pet has tartar then no amount of home care will remove it and your pet requires professional dental treatment to address problems above and below the gum line.
If more serious dental disease is suspected, then a complete oral (mouth) examination is needed under general anaesthetic. In some cases your vet may recommend a pre-anaesthetic blood test to confirm that your pet will be able to cope with the anaesthetic. Intravenous fluids may also be recommended during the procedure to support the cardiovascular and renal systems. Your pet will be sedated first and then placed under gas anaesthesia, which will be monitored throughout the procedure by the veterinarian doing the dental procedure and a dedicated nurse . Dental examinations and procedures are always carried out by trained, registered veterinarians, not nursing staff.
The gaps between the teeth and the gums are measured, a dental scale is performed using modern ultrasonic scaling equipment and any rotten or broken teeth are removed (with your permission). The teeth are then polished, this helps to prevent plaque from sticking to the teeth. Your vet may also recommend anti-inflammatory/ anti-pain or antibiotic medication .
Upon discharge from the hospital, we can discuss the best ways to prevent the dental disease from returning. Many options will be offered but a discussion between you and our staff will determine which will work best in your home. Some recommendations may include teeth brushing (the gold standard in home care, but we do understand that this is not for all homes), special diets, treats or water additives , depending on your individual pet’s needs. We know that plaque will return (that is why we brush our teeth twice daily) , our aim is to slow down the dental disease that follows, reducing the need (and expense) for major dental work. The VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) has recommended the following products as being scientifically tested and proven to help in the reduction of plaque and recommended in pets to control dental disease:-
Food- Hills t/d diet (we also stock Advance dental diet and Royal Canin dental diet)
Treats – Greenies – available for Dogs in multiple sizes and cats
Drinking water additive – Healthymouth (available in 250 and 500mls for Cats and Dogs well below the RRP)
By attending to your pet’s dental disease you will be significantly contributing to your pet’s overall health. Many owners have come back to us surprised just how much happier and healthier their pet has been since having dental treatment.