FAQ: DOG & CAT ORAL CARE

Prairie View Animal Hospital supports great oral care for our pets. 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 (tartar) forms, further irritating the gums and infection progresses to loosen and destroy the attachment of the tooth. In addition to loose teeth, infection under the gum line can spread to the liver, kidneys, and heart.

How can I brush my animal's teeth?
Brushing the teeth may be difficult when you first start, but with a lot of persistence and positive reinforcement for you and your pet, it can be accomplished and it will get easier.  Although it might be a bit tricky to get the teeth brushed, the health benefits for your pet are well worth it.  The first step is to pick a soft-bristled, or finger toothbrush.  Next, get enzymatic toothpaste from your veterinarian. Do not use human toothpaste because it has detergents that should not be swallowed.

How often does my pet need to have teeth cleaned by the veterinarian?Periodontal (Dental) Cleaning at Prairie View Animal Hospital
The frequency of periodontal cleanings for your pet depends on the degree of plaque and tartar accumulation.  It is recommended that on a monthly basis, you examine your pet's teeth to look for an accumulation of yellow or brown material at the area where the tooth meets the gum line.  Once you notice plaque or tartar accumulation, it is time for a professional cleaning.

Attached to the tartar is bacteria irritating the 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 the amount of oral care provided at home, and of course genetics.  Some animals are just genetically more likely to have tartar and gingivitis than others.  Small breed dogs for instance tend to accumulate plaque and tartar faster than large breed dogs. If you cannot brush the teeth, then there are other products available to aid in prevention of tartar and plaque accumulation.  Brushing your pets teeth is the gold standard! 

Can I just take my fingernail or a dental scaler to remove the tartar?
Dental disease occurs below the gum line. If you use your finger nail to remove the tartar from the tooth, you are not removing the disease below the gum line. In order to thoroughly help your pet, plaque and tartar must be removed from below the gum line during a dental cleaning.

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.

I am concerned about the anesthesia.  Is it safe?
We take every effort to ensure your pet?s safety during an anesthetic procedure. We use the safest of anesthetic agents, and all animals have a pre-anesthetic blood panel prior to any anesthesia being administered.  Finally all animals are monitored while anesthetized. Please refer to the Surgical FAQ's page for more information on anesthesia.

What is involved in the teeth cleaning at your hospital?

Each teeth cleaning has 19 separate procedures performed:

1.  general exam before anesthesia
2.  pre-operative bloodwork
3.  pre-operative antibiotic injection
4.  preemptive pain management
5.  general anesthesia
6.  intravenous fluids
7.  oral rinse with a chlorhexidine oral rinse
8.  removal of plaque and tartar above the gumline
9.  removal of plaque and tartar below the gumline
10.  polishing
11.  irrigation
12.  probe and explore
13.  complete dental charting
14.  dental x-rays if needed
15. Oral surgery if needed
16.  Treatment plan
17.  anesthetic recovery
18.  home care
19.  follow up


How much does a dental cleaning procedure cost?
It is impossible to quote over the Internet what the procedure will cost because we do not know the status of your pet's teeth and gums. There are four levels of teeth cleanings at our hospital. Fee range is based on severity plus costs for preoperative testing, anesthesia, necessary therapy, and medication. The doctor or staff will be happy to give you an estimate once you bring your dog or cat in for an examination.

What is best to feed my pet?
Hard food will help remove plaque from teeth. There are special diets specifically manufactured to help keep dogs and cats teeth clean. 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.

What toys should I avoid to protect my pet's teeth?
Chewing on objects harder than the tooth may lead to dental fractures. Be especially careful with cow and horse hoofs. They commonly cause fractures of the upper fourth premolars. Tug-of-war games must not be practiced, especially in young dogs and cats to avoid moving growing teeth to abnormal locations.

What are cat cavities?
Many cats get painful lesions at the gum line, which invade teeth. They are properly referred to as Feline Oral Resorptive Lesions (FORLS). Unfortunately we do not know what causes FORLS, and the most effective treatment involves extraction of the affected tooth pending dental x-rays.


How can I tell if my pet is suffering from periodontal disease?

* Bad Breath: this is the leading sign that there is an infection in the mouth

* Tooth loss

* Subdued Behavior

* Abnormal Drooling

* Dropping food from the mouth

* Swallowing food whole

* Bleeding gums

* Going to the food bowl, but not eating

* Any change in chewing or eating habits

 If your pet displays any of these signs, serious periodontal disease may be present.  A thorough periodontal therapy and possible oral surgery will be necessary to control this condition.  


What are the causes of periodontal disease?
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Plaque is a colorless film that contains large amounts of bacteria.  If left unchecked, plaque builds up, creating infection, destroying gums and resulting in the loss of the tissues and bone that support the teeth.  Preventative oral care can reduce the formation of plaque and help maintain proper oral health throughout your pet's life. 
Four Stages of Periodontal Disease - Prairie View Animal Hospital

What type of tests are done to diagnose dental disease?
If periodontal disease is present or if your pet has a fractured tooth, an oral exam is performed while under anesthesia. A periodontal probe is used to evaluate bone loss around each tooth. X-rays are taken to evaluate if the teeth can be saved or need to be extracted.

When do I have to start worrying about dental problems with my pet?
As soon as puppy or kitten teeth emerge, its time to start brushing. Although baby teeth are replaced with adult teeth, the puppy or kitten gets used to the brushing procedure which continues for life.

What can be done if my pet has periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease occurs when tooth support structures are affected by infection. In the beginning stages, cleaning above and below the gum line as well as removal of tartar attached to the tooth will help restore periodontal health. In advanced cases, either periodontal surgery or extractions are performed. In some cases antibiotics given monthly will also help to control the progression of periodontal disease.

What are contributing factors for periodontal disease?
Poor oral hygiene:  ignoring the condition of your pet's mouth can lead to periodontal disease, tooth loss and other health problems.

  • Breed:  Periodontal disease is more common in smaller breeds of dogs and certain breeds of cats. 
  • Age:  Periodontal disease is more common as pets grow older.

What are the treatments of oral disease?
You should look for warning signs of oral disease.  Common indications include bad breath, a change in eating or chewing habits, pawing at the face or mouth, and depression.  If any of these signs are present, your pet should be taken to your veterinarian for an oral exam.

  • You can reduce the risk of oral disease.  The first step in preventing oral disease is a routine physical exam, including an oral exam.
  • You should practice a regular oral care regiment at home.  This may include brushing your pet's teeth with enzymatic toothpaste.
  • You should schedule regular follow up care with your veterinarian and ask about the different specially formulated foods and other products that are proven to help prevent plaque and tartar buildup. 

What can you do to fix a broken tooth?
If your dog or cat breaks its tooth, there are two treatments: root canal therapy or extraction. You cannot leave the tooth alone with an exposed nerve. In addition to pain, infection will soon develop that can spread to the rest of your pet's body.


Pet Dental Facts

  • Periodontal disease is the most prevalent disease among dogs and cats.
  • An astounding 80% of dogs and cats show signs of oral disease by age 3, according to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS).
  • Periodontal disease is common in dogs of smaller breeds because dogs' teeth often are too large for their mouths, forcing the teeth closer together.
  • Dogs start out with 28 deciduous (baby) teeth; cats start out with 26 deciduous teeth.  By 6 months of age, these baby teeth fall out and are replaced by permanent teeth, 42 in the dog and 30 in the cat.
  • Broken teeth are a common problem for dogs, especially among outdoor dogs.  According to veterinary dental experts, aggressive chewing on hard objects is a primary cause of broken teeth in dogs.
  • Odontal clastic resorptive lesions are the most common tooth disease in domestic cats.  Studies show that about 28% of domestic cats develop at least one of these painful lesions during their lifetime. 

    Please visit www.petdental.com for even more oral care information.

 

Stages of Periodontal Disease:

Periodontal Disease is PREVENTABLE!

Key terms:
Periodontiumconsists of tissues that support the tooth and includes:  gingiva, periodontal ligament, cementum, and alveolus.

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gingival tissue only.   Gingivitis is reversible!  The goal is to cure the symptoms.

Periodontitis is an active disease state of the periodontium.  Periodontitis is irreversible!  The goal is to control the symptoms.

Stages of Periodontal Disease
Level 0- Normal Healthy Periodontium

Level 1- Gingivitis ONLY- REVERSIBLE

Level 2- Early periodontitis- IRREVERSIBLE

Level 3- Established periodontitis- IRREVERSIBLE

Level 4- Advanced periodontitis- IRREVERSIBLE

The doctors will grade you pet's mouth based on the stage of periodontal disease that is present.  For Stages 1-4 periodontal therapy is needed to control the process.  Remember gingivitis is REVERSIBLE and can be cured whereas periodontitis is IRREVERSIBLE, but can be controlled.