Dental Care

Why should I brush my dog's or cat's teeth?     


Daily removal of plaque is the key to an oral hygiene program. Unless your pet's teeth are brushed daily, plaque, which is an accumulation of bacteria, will build up at the gum line. Eventually calculus forms, further irritating the gums, and then infection progresses to loosen and destroy the tooth's attachment. In addition to loose teeth, infection under the gumline can spread to the liver, kidneys, and heart.

How can I brush my animal's teeth?

It is usually an easy and fun procedure. First pick a soft-bristled or finger toothbrush. Next, get toothpaste from your veterinarian. Do not use human toothpaste because it has detergents that should not be swallowed.

How about wipes?

Dental wipes can be effective in removing plaque. Be sure to wipe the area where the tooth meets the gum line.

How often does my pet need to have teeth cleaned by the veterinarian?

It depends on the degree of plaque and tartar accumulation. You need to examine your pet's teeth monthly. Look for an accumulation of yellow or brown material at the area where the tooth meets the gumline especially over the cheek teeth and canines.

Once you notice plaque or tartar accumulation, it is time for a professional cleaning. Do not wait.

Attached to the tartar are bacteria, which irritate gum tissues. When treated, the inflammation will resolve. When gingivitis is left untreated, it will progress to periodontitis, which is non-curable.

The intervals between teeth cleaning procedures will depend on how often you can brush your pet's teeth. Once or twice daily cleaning is optimum. If you cannot brush the teeth, then your pet will probably need cleaning visits yearly.

Can I just take my fingernail,a dental scaler, or have a "no anesthetic" dental cleaning service to remove the calculus?

Dental disease occurs below the gum line. By removing calculus from the tooth, you are not removing disease below the gum line. In order to thoroughly help your pet, plaque and calculus must be removed from below the gum line.  Also, after scaling off the calculus it is very important to polish the teeth, to prevent calculus from building up again too quickly.

Do you have to use anesthesia to clean my pet's teeth?

Anesthesia is necessary when performing teeth cleaning. Anesthesia provides three important functions: immobilization in order to clean below the gum line, pain control, and the ability to place a tube into the windpipe, so bacterial products do not enter the respiratory system.

What is involved in the teeth cleaning procedure at your hospital?

Each dental cleaning procedure has multiple steps:

  1. general exam before anesthesia, pre-operative blood testing

  2. oral exam under anesthesia

  3. gross calculus removal

  4. subgingival (below the gumline) scaling.

  5. radiographs (x-rays) to evaluate the areas below the gumline

  6. oral surgery and/or extractions if indicated

  7. tooth polishing

  8. irrigation

  9. fluoride application

  10. dental charting

  11. home care instructions

  12. no-fee follow up appointment to evaluate healing

How much does a tooth cleaning procedure cost?

It is impossible to determine what the procedure will cost because we do not know the status of your pet's teeth and gums.  The doctor or staff will provide an initial treatment plan based on exam room findings . We try to keep as closely as possible to this initial treatment plan but may have to alter it after a tooth-by-tooth exam is conducted under anesthesia.

What is the best food for my pet?

Hard food will help remove plaque from teeth. There are special diets specifically manufactured to help control plaque. Feeding the special diets in conjunction with daily brushing is the best to keep the teeth clean. Diet alone will not control plaque, but it will help.

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