Pet dental care is of paramount importance for pets, as dental disease is a very common disease for dogs and cats. Taking preventative measures with guidance from your Vet to maintain good dental hygiene will help ensure you keep your pet healthy and pain-free.
Vet Dental Care – How to Keep Your Pets Teeth Healthy
We recommend regular at-home pet dental care to ensure your pet has the best chance of avoiding dental disease. Our specialist Veterinary team can recommend a range of select dental health care products, which are used in the clinic.
We can recommend the best products to suit your pet’s needs, such as pet toothpaste (never use human formulations), safe dental treats and supplements that work together. We also have handy tips on how to properly clean your pet’s teeth, putting a place a regime from whilst your pet is young, so it becomes part of your routine and an easy job as they grow up.
It can also be beneficial to have a scale and polish performed regularly to clean the teeth thoroughly. This is similar to the treatment we would receive from a dental hygienist. These are done under a short general anaesthetic as our patients won’t sit in one position for a prolonged period and we must ensure their safety and the team’s safety when in the vicinity of sharp teeth!
Putting these in place, with regular vet dental exams and scaling and polishing, reduces the risk of them needing dental work in the future.
What are the signs of dental disease?
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Visible tartar build-up on teeth
- Red or inflamed gums (gingivitis)
- Discoloured teeth
- Loose teeth
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Slowness or reluctance to eat
- Chewing on one side of the mouth
- Dropping food from the mouth when eating
- Swelling around the mouth (from potential tooth root abscesses)
Why does dental disease occur?
Food and saliva that is left behind on the teeth will form plaque on the tooth. Plaque is soft and can be removed by brushing or using alternative dental products.
If not removed, the plaque will harden forming tartar, which is difficult to remove without dentistry intervention. If tartar is not removed (normally via dental de-scaling) then bacteria will spread below the gum line, causing red sore gums. This is called gingivitis and periodontitis, which in turn can lead to loss of teeth, infection of the tooth root and jawbone infections.
Cats also get another form of the dental disease known as feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORLs). It has an unknown cause, but 75% of cats are thought to be affected. It is particularly common in cats over five years but can occur at any age.
In these lesions, part of the tooth is eaten away by the tooth itself, forming a small hole in the enamel close to the gum line. These lesions are very painful for cats and can lead to tooth fractures as they weaken the teeth. They require extraction to resolve.
Dog & Cat Dental Care – Emergency Dental Extractions
In some cases, due to a variety of causes, you could face a pet dental emergency, commonly when your pet breaks its tooth on a hard object or suffers an external injury. In this case, it’s key to get them to a Vet immediately to assess the level of damage and provide pain relief to your cat or dog.
Vet dentistry can in some cases determine whether a dental extraction is needed by a physical exam alone, where there are obvious signs of damage such as fractures, abscesses, cavities or lesions. However, they may need a dental x-ray or CT scan to assess any concerns about hidden injuries to the teeth. Teeth are extracted surgically and performed under anaesthetic with IV fluids where appropriate. We provide pain relief by giving a dental nerve block before the procedure, followed up with appropriate pain relief during recovery.
During the early recovery stages, we will advise on the best way to care for your pet and help them feel as comfortable as possible, including feeding soft foods and the avoidance of hard chew toys.
Pet owners report back that their pet appears significantly happier after having emergency pet dental care, which reflects the underlying pain playing a big part in how they feel. If you do notice any changes in your dog or cat’s temperament eating and drinking habits, it’s important to visit your vets as soon as you can to have an examination for your peace of mind.