Dental Health

The single most important factor in disease prevention in pets. Regular dental care can extend and improve the life of your pet dramatically.

How do I know if my pet's teeth need cleaning?

There are many signs of dental disease in pets.

1. bad breath (halitosis)

2. visibly broken tooth/teeth

3. visibly loose tooth or teeth

4. discoloration of teeth

5. tartar on teeth

6. excessive drooling

7. bleeding from the mouth

8. irritability

9. selective rejection of hard food

10. loss of appetite or weight loss (this combination of signs can be indicative of many disease problems and should be investigated by Dr. Honey or Dr. Kirkham as soon as possible)

11. picking up food and dropping it

12. pain on chewing

13. unilateral chewing or chewing on one side of the mouth sometimes resulting in more plaque and tartar accumulation on the affected side

14. sensitivity to hot and cold stimuli

15. pawing at the mouth

16. rubbing the the chin or head along the ground or furniture

17. reluctance to be petted on the head or shying away when you touch the mouth area

18. draining sinus tracts (wounds with discharge)

19. swelling of upper jaw (maxilla) lower jaw (mandible) or under the eye (suborbital region) which may have responded to antibiotics in the past

20. reluctance to play with toys or chew toys

21. loss of symmetry of the muzzle and/or lower jaw

22. sudden change in behaviour (aggressive or withdrawn)

23. chronic eye infections or drainage with no exact cause or cure

24. inability to open or close the mouth

25. chronic sneezing

26. abnormal discharge from nose

27. a mass/growth in the mouth

28. irritability

What is involved with cleaning pet teeth?

Proper teeth cleaning requires complete cooperation of the patient so plaque and tartar can be removed properly. Anesthesia is required to thoroughly clean the teeth. Although anesthesia always carries a degree of risk, the modern anesthetic protocols used in our hospital minimize this risk, even for older pets. Depending on your pet’s age and general health status, blood may be analyzed prior to anesthesia to evaluate blood cell counts and major organ function.

Before the cleaning process is started, we take a full set of  x-rays of your pet’s mouth. This helps us evaluate the health of the teeth and bones around the teeth, and determine if any teeth need to be removed.

Four steps in the teeth cleaning process

  1. Scaling removes the tartar above and below the gum line. This is done with hand  instruments and ultrasonic cleaning equipment.
  2. Polishing smoothes the surface of the teeth, making them resistant to additional plaque formation.
  3. Flushing removes dislodged tartar from the teeth and helps to remove the bacteria that accompany tartar.
  4. Fluoride coating decreases teeth sensitivity, strengthens enamel, and decreases  the rate of future plaque formation.

What type of scheduling is needed for pet teeth cleaning?

We ask that you schedule the cleaning procedure a few days in advance. It will be necessary to withhold food the night before. Take away the food bowl when you go to bed, please do not remove the water. Your pet should be admitted to the hospital early on the morning of the procedure and will generally be ready for discharge in the late afternoon. Keep your pet indoors that evening to insure that no accidents (falls, etc.) occur until complete recovery from anesthesia. If that is not possible, you may elect to have your pet spend the night in the hospital. The recovering pet should be offered small amounts of water and food that evening. By the next morning your pet will be completely recovered and you can provide food and water according to your normal schedule.

Take our quiz to test your knowledge of dental disease

1. You should brush your dog or cat’s teeth:
A: daily
B: weekly
C: monthly

2. The single most effective preventive care for teeth is:
A: daily brushing
B: dental diets
C: dental chews

3. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will suffer from gum disease by what age?
A: 3 years
B: 6 years
C: 9 years

4. Bones are good for your dogs teeth?

5. Most tooth extractions in dogs or cats involve oral surgery.

6. Good dental care can extend your pets life by how many years?
A: 1 year
B: 2 years
C: 5 years

7. Bad aroma from your pets mouth is:
A: normal
B: not normal but there is nothing that can be done
C: a major indicator of dental disease most of which is very treatable.

8. Dental disease is strongly linked to other disease problems such as heart / lung/ kidney liver and other organ disease.

9. Adult cats have how many teeth?
A: 24
B: 30
C: 42

10. Adult dogs have how many teeth?
A: 24
B: 30
C: 42