The number one health problem affecting our pets today is periodontal disease. By 2 years of age, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of periodontal disease, with small breeds being most susceptible. However, due to the lack of outward clinical signs, periodontal issues often go untreated until late in the course of disease.
Clinical signs of advanced dental disease can include the following:
- bad breath
- broken or loose teeth
- extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar
- abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth
- reduced appetite or refusal to eat
- pain in or around the mouth
- bleeding from the mouth
- swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth
- no clinical signs at all
Left untreated, periodontal disease will lead to many adverse local and systemic problems such as:
- tooth and bone infection
- oronasal fistulas
- fractured teeth
- eye complications
- increased risk of oral tumors
- spread of disease to the kidneys, heart, and liver
At Noah’s Ark Veterinary Hospital, not only are we equipped to handle severe periodontal issues, but we are also here to guide you in preventative dental care.
Regular dental cleanings under anesthesia are the best way to monitor and manage dental disease. During this procedure the teeth will be scaled with an ultrasonic scaler, probed, and charted. The teeth will also be radiographed (x-rayed). Two-thirds of the tooth resides below the gum line and dental radiographs are the only way to get a full assessment of this part of the tooth. If there is disease present, we will contact you and recommend the best course of action to keep your pet healthy and happy.
As with any procedure requiring anesthesia, we require a pre-operative assessment with a veterinarian within 60 days and general bloodwork within 30 days. During the procedure, an I.V. catheter is placed and fluids are infused for hydration and to maintain blood pressure. A surgical technician assists the doctor and an anesthesia technician, under direction from the doctor, assesses anesthetic depth and monitors vital signs including EKG, SPO2 (oxygenation), blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate, and temperature.
Our doctors are equipped with the training and knowledge to assess the oral cavity via gross inspection and dental radiographs to determine the best course of action totreat diseased teeth. Treatments may include dental extractions, local antibiotic infusion (ClindOral), or the application of Sanos (a dental sealant).
In certain situations, if we feel the oral disease is beyond our scope of treatment, we may opt to refer you to an oral specialist. This may occur with certain oral tumors, jaw fractures, bone infection, etc.
The best way to prevent dental disease is by brushing the teeth. It takes 24 hours for food to solidify on the teeth to form calculus. Therefore, this really should be done daily. How To Brush Your Pet’s Teeth
Gingivitis will recur 1 to 3 weeks after a full dental cleaning if home care is not initiated.
Other options for preventative care include, but are not limited to: OraVet gel, OraVet dental chews, and CET chews. A complete list of chews approved by a council of veterinary dental specialists can be found at www.vhoc.com.
Anesthesia-free dental cleanings are misleading and we do not recommend them. They remove the visible tartar and plaque and will give a false sense of good oral health because visually you will see improvement. However, two-thirds of the tooth in a veterinary patient resides below the gum line. Anesthesia-free cleanings do not assess or treat below the gum line, where the majority of dental disease resides.
Further, there are risks associated with a sudden jerk or head movement by the patient leading to tissue damage or a patient can inadvertently bite. Patient may undergo unwarranted stress due to manual restraint and experience varying levels of pain.