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Posted on 02-27-2014

Dental Health

Your pets’ teeth are very important to its overall health; pets need dental care too!  Tooth decay is painful, and some pets will drool or become unable to chew their food.  Gum disease can lead to heart, liver, and kidney disease.  Bad breath is typically the first sign that there is a problem in your pet’s mouth.

We recommend a checkup every year, during which a veterinarian will evaluate your pet’s mouth. We routinely look for tartar (hard plaque buildup), gum disease, and loose or decayed teeth.  After an exam, the veterinarian will make recommendations to improve your pet’s dental health.

Often, a professional dental cleaning is recommended.  After your pet is deemed fit for anesthesia and bloodwork is normal, your pet is admitted to the hospital the morning of the procedure.  Using the latest anesthetic protocols, your pet is sedated and a thorough ultrasonic cleaning is performed, including under the gum line.  The teeth and mouth are again examined, and then dental x-rays may be taken.  The teeth are polished and your pet recovers from anesthesia in the care of our loving technicians.

During the professional dental cleaning, we may find decay and tooth pain which requires the teeth to be removed.  Often pets do not tell us that their mouth hurts, but after removing bad teeth, pets may feel a great deal better.  Removal of teeth often requires longer anesthesia time, antibiotics and pain medication to be sent home.  This more in-depth procedure is more costly.

A routine dental cleaning will prevent gum disease and improve oral health, hopefully preventing the need for teeth to be taken out in the future.

Occasionally, you will find dental cleanings advertised without sedation, such as done by groomers.  We do not recommend this procedure as it may do more harm than good.  Simply scraping off the visible tartar with a metal hook damages the enamel, can damage the gums, and does not allow for a good exam of the teeth.  A professional dental cleaning with sedation provides a thorough cleaning and polish with the ability of performing dental x-rays.  If you have concerns about sedation and anesthesia, please discuss them with your veterinarian.

We encourage everyone to brush their pet’s teeth – dogs and cats.  I brush my cat’s (Chesh) teeth every night before bed.  You should purchase a toothbrush kit at the hospital or pet store, using only tooth paste designed for pets and a brush with very soft bristles.  Start slowly, allowing your pet to lick the paste and brush and try opening his lips.  Brush for a few seconds, working up to about 30 seconds for the whole mouth.  Concentrate on the outside of the teeth (right under the lips) and not on the inside.  Remember to give him a nice reward, such as a treat afterwards.  Every other day is OK, every day is best.

Some chews and treats can help, however brushing is your best bet at improving dental health.

Here is a good video explaining how to brush your pet’s teeth.  


For a step by step explanation with photos of a dental cleaning click on the "Dentistry" link under the "Preventive Care for Your Pet" tab on our main page.

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