Archive for March, 2016

Pet dentistry – why it is so important

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

Pet dentistry

Your pet doesn’t use his/her mouth to speak words, but their mouths tell us some important medical stories.

Smiling Windy and Mariel

Smiling Windy and Mariel

Since we opened our animal hospital 35 years ago, one of the processes that has really changed in veterinary medicine is pet dentistry. We carefully assess your pet’s teeth and gums when we are doing an exam. We use this part of the exam for illness prevention and early disease intervention. Good dental health has proven time and again to extend the life span and our pet’s quality of life.

Dental disease

Tootsie Roll and sparking teeth

Tootsie Roll and sparking teeth.

Many pets will not show signs of dental disease even though it can be extremely painful and can cause a number of systemic health problems. Bacteria from their mouth can enter the blood stream and cause damage to many organs, including the heart, liver and kidneys. Left untreated, dental disease becomes a constant or recurring inflammatory process and can strain your pet’s immune system. If your pet has other medical conditions such as diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism (an under-active thyroid), or Cushing’s disease (overactive adrenal function), there is the potential for an increased incidence of infection and may worsen dental disease.

Brushing your pet’s teeth

dental 1 LA brushing a patient's teeth

Ellay demonstrating pet teeth brushing.

During your pet’s annual examination, we evaluate his/her oral health and may recommend a routine dental cleaning or advanced treatment of more significant periodontal or endodontic disease. We regularly recommend brushing your pet’s teeth. You may be thinking “Oh no, I don’t know how to do that!” or simply “No way!” We understand, and to make it a little easier, we’ll show you how to do it. We have even posted videos on our YouTube channel to help you. (click here for our ‘how to” videos)

Rocco loving his teeth brushing

Rocco during his nightly teeth brushing.

Our clients have often found that once they get the hang of it and the pet associates it with some positive reinforcement – a treat, some play, or cuddles – it can be a more pleasurable experience.

Teeth brushing and rinsing should begin at an early age, before the effects of periodontal disease have started. By the way we have specialized toothpaste and brushes available for your pets. We don’t recommend using any brand that you use for your own teeth!

We have some especially pet appealing flavors – chicken, tuna, malt, beef, vanilla-mint, and seafood on hand.

Our staff will be happy to discuss this with you, and we can provide you with our dental instructional pamphlets during your pet’s next visit. There are some additional good dental resources on line for easy reference, here is a link to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and information on pet teeth brushing.

Dental cleaning

dental 1 KS TL DR and Katie prepare for extractions

Dr. Swindell and Katie performing a dental procedure. Dr. Leslie and Dr. Richerson consulting.

Of course, just like for us, there will come a point when home care is not enough to treat your pet’s dental disease. At that time, we will recommend a dental evaluation and cleaning under anesthesia. Our professional dental treatment includes probing each tooth to better evaluate the extent of periodontal disease present. In addition to a thorough evaluation of the individual teeth and any additional treatment required, we administer an ultrasonic scaling to remove calculus from the surfaces of the teeth both above and below the gum line, followed by a dental polishing to smooth the tooth surfaces.

Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease is the most common disease affecting dogs and cats today. Periodontal disease is disease of tissues that support and anchor the teeth. This includes: the gingiva (commonly called the gum), periodontal ligament, cementum, and alveolar bone. 

dental 1 TL and DR look at Dental Rads

Dr. Leslie and Dr. Richerson reviewing digital dental radiographs.

dental 1 TL starting extractions

Dr. Leslie beginning a tooth extraction.

If significant disease is evident, we will prescribe evaluating the health of the tooth, or teeth, using our digital dental radiography system. This allows us to carefully evaluate the supporting structures and any pathology hiding below the gingiva of the tooth. If supporting structures have been compromised, or if there is any indication of more extensive disease (including endodontic disease), we occasionally refer to or consult with a specialist to solve complicated problems.  We have had great success in saving questionable teeth when the pet’s owner increases the attention to the diseased teeth during home care and brings their pet in for frequent professional dental treatments.

Together we do so many things to prevent our pets from experiencing unnecessary pain; taking good care of your pet’s teeth is an extension of the care you take with your pet’s food, exercise, and attention. We have devoted hours of time to train on the most advanced dental technology available. The result of our investment is that we are able to deliver the absolute best and safest care for our patients. 

Good dental care helps with good physical health and long life

Good dental care contributes to good physical health and long life.