Checking inside your cat or dog’s mouth is always a part of Dr. Sura’s nose to tail exam whenever they come to see her at Family Pet Hospital. For our more cooperative patients, she can get a pretty good idea about the condition of their teeth and gums. But as you know, not every animal appreciates strangers peering into their mouths. And of course for the doctor, the pet’s recourse could be mean a nasty bite to her hand. However, she does her best to access the pet’s mouth and provide owners with the best course of action for their dental health. Prevention of dental disease is the goal. But if your pet already has some degree of dental disease you should plan on taking the necessary steps recommended by the veterinarian.
Periodontal Disease is an infection of the tissue surrounding the teeth that progresses in stages.
- It starts out as a bacterial film which is called plaque. The bacteria attach to the teeth.
- Whens the bacteria die they can be calcified by saliva. This forms a hard, rough substance called tartar or calculus which allows more plaque to accumulate on the teeth. Initially, plaque is soft and brushing or chewing hard food or toys can dislodge it.
- But if left untreated, the plaque can lead to gingivitis. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums, causing them to become red and swollen and they bleed easily.
- As plaque and calculus develop below the gum line, professional cleaning will be needed to manage it.
- If the plaque and tartar buildup continues unchecked, infection can form around the root of the tooth.
- Finally periodontal disease will destroy the tissue surrounding the tooth, eroding the bony socket that holds the tooth in and the tooth becomes loose.
Periodontal disease can affect your pet’s heart, lungs and kidney and liver function thereby shortening their life.
For prevention of the beginning stages of plaque buildup you might try the following:
- Hills T/D diet is designed to remove plaque and tartar from the teeth as your pet bites into the kibble. You should notice a difference in a few weeks.
- Brushing your pet’s teeth daily with toothpaste specifically made for your canine or feline pet.
- Chew toys that are designed to aid in the removal of plaque. But beware of meat bones, as they may damage the teeth causing slab fractures.
If your pet has periodontal disease and Dr. Sura advises a dental cleaning, once scheduled, you can expect the following:
- Because your pet will receive anesthesia, there will be no food after 8:00 p.m. the night before the scheduled procedure. Water may be given up until the time that you arrive at Family Pet Hospital.
- On the morning of the procedure, when you arrive, you will be asked to sign a Dental Care Authorization and Surgical and Anesthetic Release Form. Arrival time is 7:00 a.m. unless otherwise specified.
- Once the paperwork is signed and any questions you may have answered, you may leave. You are welcome to call during the day to check on your pet if you have any concerns
- Your pet will then receive a Pre-anesthetic exam and blood work to be sure that he or she is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia. You would be notified immediately if Dr. Sura believes your pet is at risk and she feels it is not in the best interest of the animal to proceed with the dental.
- Your pet will receive IV fluids during and after the procedure to insure that their blood pressure remains stable during the dental and the anesthetics are flushed from the blood stream. A small patch of fur will be shaved from one of the front legs to accommodate the IV catheter.
- During anesthesia, your pet’s vital signs (such as body temperature, heart and respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, and blood pressure) will be monitored and recorded to insure the safety of your pet.
- Dental radiographs (x-rays) of the teeth will be taken to completely evaluate your pet’s oral health. X-rays will disclose any abnormalities below the surface that are not visible with examination alone.
- Your pet’s teeth are then scaled to remove the plaque and tartar. The teeth are then polished with a special paste to smooth out any scratches in the tooth enamel. Once polished, a fluoride application is performed.
- Extractions, if necessary are also done at this time.
- An application of Doxirobe Gel may be used if the gingival pocket is large, to avoid further periodontal disease and potential future extractions.
- All pets are treated to a complimentary nail trim.
- All cats and dogs are monitored as they wake from anesthesia with vital signs being taken one final time prior to their discharge.
- Discharge instructions are gone over with the owner and they are provided with a digital copy of the dental x-rays as well as tooth brush, toothpaste and a toy to go home.