Dental care is just as important for our animals as it is for us. Did you know that our pet’s accumulate plaque and develop tartar 5 times faster than we do? Plaque and tartar affect our pet’s teeth just like our own and the results are the often same although the most common dental disease among animals is periodontal disease rather than cavities (think of how much sugar we consume in comparison to our pets!).
Periodontal disease is the inflammation of the tooth’s deep supporting structures caused by the accumulation of food particles and bacteria along an animal’s gumline. These particles form a sticky substance called plaque, which, when combined with saliva and minerals, will transform into tartar. Tartar that is not removed from the gum line causes inflammation (Gingivitis) thus starting the first stage of Periodontal disease.
As time goes on, the accumulation of tartar builds up under the gum line causing a separation between the gum and teeth, as well as pockets under the teeth where bacteria will begin to grow. Once this happens, the animal is considered to have reached the stage of irreversible Periodontal disease which usually leads to bone loss, tissue destruction and pus formation in the spaces between the gum and teeth. This is why the Veterinarians and Veterinary staff at Acadia strongly encourage early dental care in the form of dental diets, water additives and daily brushing with toothpaste designed for animals to remove the continuous build-up of plaque. Once the plaque has calcified into tartar, only a professional cleaning with dental instruments will be able to remove the buildup.
Prevention of disease and discomfort through regular dental care is a well established practice in people. The same principles apply to our pets, especially these days when we can expect them to live well into their senior years. Gum and/or tooth infections are painful, and can lead to a lot of problems including jaw bone loss and heart valve, liver & kidney disease. Tumors in the mouth are relatively common in dogs and cats. Early detection of these often malignant cancers can help save your pets’ life. We strongly recommend routine (every year or two) dental examinations, including dental X-rays, to identify potential problems before they affect your pet’s quality of life or long-term health.
Worn down canines from improper chewingOur veterinary technicians are trained to supplement general anesthesia with dental blocks (freezing), to provide extra comfort during and after procedures such as extractions. We chart all our patients teeth when they are under anesthesia and will give you a free dental report card when you pick them up. Our dental services are not limited to dogs and cats, we also see exotics such as rabbits, chinchillas and ferrets!
During an oral examination, the severity of dental disease is graded on a scale of 1 to 4. Owners often assume that teeth cleaning is unnecessary when their pet’s teeth and gums are at a grade 1 or grade 2 dental disease. This is not the case. Waiting until the condition worsens to grade 3 or 4 will put the pet at higher risk of infection and tooth loss. They will also require more anesthetic time as it will take longer to clean the teeth and there will most likely be numerous extractions. These pets will often need to go on antibiotics.
Retained Deciduous (Baby) Teeth
Occasionally puppies and kittens will have deciduous or baby teeth that do not fall out on their own before the adult teeth begin to grow in. It is recommended that these teeth be removed so they do not cause problems later on in life. Failure to have the teeth removed may cause the adult teeth to grow in improperly causing poor bite alignment. The area between the adult and baby teeth is an excellent place for tarter to build up causing tooth decay. The tarar and decay can lead to serious infection which can establish itself in the gum line and cause bone loss.