Dental care of dogs and cats is one of the most commonly overlooked areas of pet health care; however, it is necessary to provide optimum health and quality of life.
Preventive dental care can add 2 to 4 years to the life of your pet.
Optimum dental care truly is a fountain of youth for your pet.
Our dental services at Ahwatukee Animal Care Hospital include teeth cleaning and polishing, tooth extractions and oral surgery.
Your pet's dental and oral health are an important part of his/her overall health. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have oral disease by the age of 3 years. Periodontal disease is the most common disease in dogs and cats in the United States.
Many health problems start in the mouth. Dental disease can dramatically affect your pet's organ functions. Plaque, tartar, periodontal disease, and infected teeth serve as a source of inflammation and infection for the rest of the body.
Dental disease can lead to more serious conditions such as heart, lung, liver, or kidney disease. Many pets with untreated dental disease suffer from chronic pain and premature aging (often acting older than they should).
Dental disease can occur in pets of all ages, but if your pet is 3 years of age or older, he/she likely has tartar and plaque build-up on the teeth and probably needs a dental cleaning. Older pets that lack preventive dental care and cleanings will have advanced tartar build-up and some degree of gum disease.
The problem begins when plaque and tartar are allowed to build-up on your pet's teeth. Plaque harbors bacteria which can infect gum tissue and the root system of the teeth. This causes pain and can result in healthy teeth having to be extracted because the root structure has been compromised.
The bacteria in the mouth can get into the blood stream and may cause serious kidney infections, liver disease, and heart valve disease. Oral disease can also indicate that another disease process is occurring elsewhere in a pet's body. A thorough physical exam combined with appropriate laboratory work can determine if this is the case.
Some symptoms which may indicate oral disease include: bad breath, plaque build-up, tartar build-up, gum irritation and redness, changes in eating and chewing habits, pawing at the face, generalized depression, loose teeth, broken or fractured teeth, tooth discoloration, and swelling in the jaw area.
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommends regular oral examinations and dental cleanings, under general anesthesia, for all adult cats and dogs.
AAHA recommends these procedures at least annually, beginning at age one year.
A veterinarian should evaluate your pet's dental health at least once a year. This is recommended because bacteria and food debris accumulates around a pet's teeth and, if left unchecked, will lead to a deterioration of the soft tissue and bone surrounding the teeth. This decay results in irreversible periodontal disease and even tooth loss. We can recommend and demonstrate preventive measures you can begin at home.
What is important for my pet's dental care?
There are two critical components of your pet's veterinary dental care:
oral examinations and regular professional dental cleanings.
Veterinary dental care begins at the puppy and kitten stage. As your pet ages, our veterinarians will look for developmental anomalies, the accumulation of plaque and tartar, periodontal disease and oral tumors. Veterinarians can perform a basic oral examination on patients that are awake. However, when a cleaning is required, your pet will need to be induced under general anesthesia in order to properly and safely examine and clean the teeth. We use modern and safe ultrasonic equipment and each tooth is thoroughly cleaned above and below the gum line. Dental technicians polish the teeth to create a smooth, lustrous surface more resistant to plaque build-up.
After the teeth are cleaned and polished, your veterinarian will perform a thorough oral exam and check each tooth for any signs of dental disease (gum loss, root exposure, pockets around the root). Extensive dental disease requires the tooth be removed (extracted), Many teeth require oral surgery to safely remove each individual root. We have the extensive training and experience to perform these procedures properly. Oral nerve blocks are performed and additional injectable pain medications are administered if teeth are extracted. Your pet will also be sent home with oral pain medications. Pets recover quickly following these procedures and, once the gums have completely healed, they resume eating their regular dry kibble, even when multiple teeth are extracted.
Here at Ahwatukee Animal Care Hospital, we offer extensive care in dentistry to help your pet be as healthy and comfortable as possible. At every examination, our doctors evaluate your pet's teeth and give recommendations about how to improve your pet's dental health. This may include products used at home to prevent plaque and tartar build-up, as well as advanced procedures to treat more severe dental diseases. The combination of evaluating your pet's mouth and initiating appropriate treatment is the best way to prevent or treat painful abscessed teeth, as well as promote general good health.
These are the dental procedures we routinely perform with each patient:
~ General anesthesia (including pre-operative exam, blood work, and EKG screening)
~ Ultrasonic and hand-scaling of the teeth
~ Thorough oral cavity exam
~ Screening and diagnostic dental x-rays (as much as 70% of dental disease lies below the
gumline and is only identified through dental x-rays)
~ Polishing and Fluoride application
~ Dental enamel sealing and extraction, as necessary
~ Appropriate pain control medications (before, during, and after a dental procedure)
~ Follow-up evaluations, dental health care recommendations, and products
An exact quote for a dental depends on the condition of the pet's mouth and what will need to be done. An estimate will be provided prior to your pet's dental procedure.
The standard of care for veterinary patients, according to both the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Dental Society, is to perform these services under anesthesia. This is the only proper way to fully evaluate and treat your pet's dental and oral issues. We follow these guidelines so that we may continue to provide the most optimal dental care for your pet. Our doctors also regularly attend various continuing education programs in dentistry. This enables them to better identify almost any problem using dental x-rays, assess the extent of any problems, and implement cutting-edge surgical techniques, if needed, to treat the problem(s).
At your pet's discharge a veterinary technician will discuss the condition of your pet's teeth and suggest various preventive procedures, such as dental diets and treats, and toothbrush kits.
When the dental disease is resolved and your pet is on a home care prevention regime, they not only feel much better but they also have much better breath and general health. This will only enhance your relationship with your pet and help them live a longer, happier, and healthier life!
Please call our friendly office staff to schedule your pet's annual dental cleaning (480 893-0533).
For more information about dental care for your pet, including helpful documents on brushing your pet's teeth and dental diets, visit: Dental Care and Diets, Dental Disease in Dogs and Dental Cleaning in Cats pages.