Dentistry is an important part of veterinary care and good dental health is vital to the overall health of your pets. Just like humans, pets are vulnerable to tooth and gum diseases. Alarmingly, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats suffer from some form of dental disease by the age of three.
Dental disease begins with a build up of bacteria in your pet’s mouth. Bacteria, combined with saliva and food debris, can cause plaque to accumulate on teeth. As calcium salts from saliva are deposited, plaque turns to tartar (brown or yellow material starting near the gum line of the tooth).
Without proper preventive or therapeutic care, plaque and tartar build-up leads to periodontal disease, affecting the tissues and structures supporting the teeth. Periodontal disease can cause oral pain, tooth loss and even heart or kidney problems.
Common signs of dental disease, in order of severity, include:
Yellow-brown tartar around the gumline
Inflamed, red, swollen gums
Change in eating or chewing habits (especially in cats)
Pawing at the face or mouth
Pain or bleeding when you touch the gums or mouth
If your pet is showing any of these signs of dental disease please call us at Mont Albert Vet on 9890 1728 to book an appointment to see one of our vets. Early assessment and action can save your pet’s teeth.
How can I prevent dental disease?
Long-term control and prevention of dental disease requires regular home care. The best way to begin this is to accustom your pet to dental home care from an early age. This may include:
Brushing your pet's teeth daily – just like us. This is the best form of dental hygiene. Pet toothbrushes and toothpaste are now available. Please do not use human toothpaste formulas on your pet as they are not designed to be swallowed and may be toxic.
Feeding your pet a high quality dental diet such as Hills T/D. This is a dry food which is specially formulated to remove plaque during chewing.
Giving your pet regular dental treats such as Greenies.
Feeding your pet raw meaty bones (not chicken bones). Not all bones are suitable for all dogs, so please discuss this with us if you are unsure.
Using dental toys, enzymatic chews, or teeth cleaning biscuits, all of which may help to keep your pet's teeth clean.
Regular and frequent attention to your pet's teeth may avoid the need for a professional dental clean under anaesthetic and will also improve your pet's overall health.
What if my pet has dental disease?
Firstly, you should have your pet's teeth examined by one of our vets on a regular basis and, if necessary, follow up with a professional dental clean. Your pet needs to be anaesthetised to carry out a thorough dental examination and to clean all teeth without distressing them. Once anaesthetised, a complete dental examination is carried out. This process involves checking all teeth to evaluate their condition including the degree of tartar, gingivitis (gum inflammation) and any pockets in the gums around the teeth.
Our vets will then remove the tartar above the gumline using a special ultrasonic scaler, just like a dentist uses for our teeth. The teeth are then polished using a dental polisher and specialised fine-grade paste. If the dental disease is not severe, the procedure will end here. However, if certain teeth are so severely affected that they cannot be saved, extractions will be necessary. In some cases, surgery is required to remove large teeth and to close the sockets afterwards. Dissolvable stitches are used for this procedure.
Once all dental work is completed, your pet may be given an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory injection, the anaesthetic is turned off, and your pet is allowed to wake up. Pets are generally able to go home on the same day.
Following a professional dental clean, a plan needs to be implemented to minimise build up of tartar again. The management plan will depend on the severity of your pet’s dental disease. It may involve regular tooth brushing, feeding raw meaty bones and/or a special diet. We recommend that all pets be examined 6 months after dental cleaning to review the effectiveness of your dental care routine.
If you have any questions about dental care or professional cleaning please contact us at Mont Albert Vet on 9890 1728.