Dentistry

Dentistry

Dentistry is a rapidly growing area of veterinary science. More and more we are understanding the significant effect dental health can have on the overall health of the animals we treat.

Just like humans, pets’ teeth need looking after too! The health of their teeth and gums has a significant impact on their overall quality of life. Imagine how your mouth would feel, and smell, if you never brushed your teeth. Imagine having a really bad toothache and not being able to tell anyone about it!

Dental disease typically begins with a build-up of plaque, consisting of bacteria, food particles and saliva components, on the teeth. Plaque sticks to the tooth surface above and below the gum line and if not removed will calcify into tartar (also known as calculus). This appears as a yellow-brown material on the teeth. Over time the plaque and tartar can result in periodontal disease, which then can result in irreversible changes to the teeth and supportive structures.

Periodontal disease can result in local problems, such as red and inflamed gums, bad breath, and the loss of teeth. There is also growing evidence that periodontal disease can be associated with disease in distant organs, including the heart, liver and kidneys. Ultimately, dental disease is more than just a cosmetic issue — it can be a cause of significant illness and pain in dogs and cats.

Common signs of dental disease include:
 

  • Yellow-brown tartar around the gum line
  • Inflamed, red gums
  • Bad breath
  • Change in eating or chewing habits (especially in cats)
  • Pawing at the face or mouth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Pain or bleeding when you touch the gums or mouth

If your pet is showing any of these signs of dental disease, book an appointment to see one of our vets. Early assessment and action can save your pet’s teeth!

Some animals with dental disease may show no obvious signs particularly in the early stages. It is also important to remember that just because your pet is eating, it doesn’t mean they do not have dental pain.

 

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 acclimatise your pet from a young age. Dental home care may include:

Brushing 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 as they are not designed to be swallowed and may be toxic to your pet.

Teeth Friendly Chews and Toys

Use dental toys, enzymatic chews, or teeth cleaning biscuits, all of which may help keep the teeth clean.

Special
Dental Diets

Feed pets special dental diets. Eliminating wet foods from your pet's diet will also assist as these types of foods tend to get stuck around the molars at the back of the pet's mouth. Dry foods, especially dental diets can help reduce the accumulation of tartar. 

As with most things in life, when it comes to dental disease, prevention is definitely better than cure. 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 does a professional dental clean involve?

It is similar to a scale and polish done by a dentist for us, however, unlike humans, our pets won’t sit still or open their mouth to allow a comprehensive examination or cleaning of their teeth. For this reason our pets need to have a general anaesthetic for a professional dental assessment and clean. Your pet will need to be assessed by one of our vet prior to the procedure. The degree of dental disease will be assessed, to determine what type of treatment is required.

Pet's requiring dental treatment under general anaesthetic will have an admission appointment from 8am. Assessment will include a physical exam, and possibly blood and urine tests to ensure your pet is healthy prior to having an anaesthetic. Once anaesthetised, we can give the teeth a thorough cleaning using our specialised dental equipment. Depending on the severity of your pet's mouth, the vet may recommend dental x-rays to check the root health. Our digital dental radiographs allow us to quickly assess each tooth to ensure only teeth absolutely requiring extraction are removed. Should your pet require teeth out during their procedure, the vet will recommend a special diet during recovery as well as pain relief for comfort, where needed.

Dental treatment under anaesthetic is a day procedure. Once pets are awake and mobile they can go home to rest. This is usually from 2pm however we are opened until evening and can arrange a time to suit your schedule. When your pet goes home we will also discuss methods of reducing dental disease in the future and invite your pet back for a free dental health check with our nursing team 6 months after their procedure. 

If you have any questions about dental care or professional cleaning please do not hesitate to contact us.

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