Masthead: "Rocky Gets the Goods"  by Tammy McCorkle ©2014

Photo 1: "37/52 Weeks of Teddy - Tough Day" by Au Kirk / FoterCC BY

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Photo 3: "Gaz Smiles"  by C. Dugger ©2012

 

Dentistry and Dental Health

 

Does your pet’s breath smell? If you’re like many pet owners, the answer is a very resounding “yes”!

 

Regular dental checkups, along with good dental hygiene, are an important part of maintaining your pet’s good health. Periodontal disease, starting with plaque and tartar, is the number one diagnosed medical problem in small animal medicine. Surprisingly, even young animals can show some form of the disease.

 

Animals can suffer a wide variety of dental ailments that can cause both considerable pain and reduce quality of life. In extreme circumstances, dental disease can cause serious illness and lead to a shortened life.  Beyond the bad “doggy” or “kitty” breath, periodontal disease can cause oronasal fistulas, tooth/root abscesses, eye or sinus infections and even oral fractures. Left untreated, the disease can progress to damage critical organs such as the heart, liver, kidney and lungs.

 

It's Not Just Brushing Teeth...

 

Just as important as good dental hygiene is ensuring your pet’s teeth are in good working order. Do you have a dog that enjoys chewing bones, hard toys, tennis balls or even rocks?  Or how about a cat that’s managed to get a snagged tooth? Broken, eroded teeth are another common issue that can affect your pet causing discomfort, infection and pain. Many pet owners confuse their pet slowing down or getting older with their pet feeling poorly due to chronic dental disease and subsequent pain.

 

Good Dental Health is Critical

 

As part of your pet’s general examination, Dr. Dugger will complete a full and thorough dental exam.  This is done by reviewing the pet’s teeth, mouth and tongue, looking specifically for issues such as broken teeth, gum erosion or inflammation, tartar build-up and open sores.  The extent of this exam, of course, requires your pet’s cooperation.  So not all exams are as thorough as we would like.

 

If additional treatment, such as cleaning or extractions, is required, Dr. Dugger will review options as well as go over risks/benefits and cost. If the dental issue is extremely complex, you may be referred to a veterinarian who specializes in canine or feline dentistry.

 

Dr. Dugger can also go over in home general dental care for your pet.  Home care can be difficult with some pets.  There are many options, however, ranging from water additives, dental rinses, tooth brushing, chew toys/treats, dental diets, and simply learning how to recognize issues early in your pet by visual examination.

 

 

Regular Teeth Cleaning is Critical to Good Health

 

Tartar buildup is a common problem – especially with our small-mouthed felines and canines. As a key component of periodontal disease, regular teeth cleaning can drastically reduce tartar buildup and help in the prevention of associated diseases.

 

RMMV offers full dental cleaning services using an ultrasonic power scalar.  In order to provide the highest level of care and ensure the greatest success, this procedure is only done with your pet under anesthesia.  Blood tests are done first to ensure there are no underlying health issues that might be exasperated by the anesthesia.  Once the animal is under anesthesia, a full cleaning is done using both an ultrasonic and hand scalers.  When all the tartar is removed, the teeth are polished, which helps reduce the future growth of plaque and bacteria.  Teeth that are decayed, fractured or otherwise in need of extraction are removed using a high speed dental drill and elevators.  There may be post dental antibiotics or pain medications dispensed depending on your pets extent of dental disease and dental surgery.

 

 

What About Non-Anesthesia Teeth Cleaning?

 

In past years, a number of groomers, pet stores and other individuals have started to provide “anesthesia free dentistry”, or teeth brushing as an option for teeth cleaning. This is an attractive option especially when considering cost and lack of anesthesia.

 

However, we urge our clients to take the time and review this website from the American Veterinary Dental Council (AVDC).

 

A few “take aways” from this:

 

  • Non-Anesthesia Dental Scaling (NADS) is not done by a licensed veterinary professional, nor is it performed under the guidance of one. Technicians may not be trained to identify dental issues nor provide emergency care should an issue arise during the procedure.
  • Many animals are visibly uneasy in allowing access to their mouths, and contrary to what the owner might be told, will not freely stand still to allow the scaling to take place. Animals are restrained creating additional distress and anguish.  If looking in your animals mouth is difficult, how can the cleaning be taking place without distress?
  • Scaling is done on the visual tooth surface only ignoring the critical gingival pocket below the gum line.  The area below the tooth’s surface is where the bacteria grows that cause periodontal disease.
  • The ultrasonic scaler and hand scaler are both tools that can cause painful, soft-tissue damage if they touch the gum.  The NADS are also not able to clean the insides of the teeth or between the teeth.
  • Remind yourself of how much fun having your own teeth cleaned is (and how painful it can be)!  We also brush our teeth regularly, therefore, human cleanings are usually not nearly so extensive as our dog and cat friends.  There are exceptions on both sides of this equation, of course.

 

Health Teeth = Happy Pet

 

Maintaining healthy teeth is a team effort between the owner and the veterinarian, and a task Dr. Dugger eagerly assumes. RMMV can provide dental services ranging from teeth cleaning and removal as well as referring clients to highly-trained  veterinary dental specialists.

 

If your pet needs a dental checkup, is having dental issues, or you need assistance in ensuring you understand how to keep their teeth healthy, please contact our clinic at 303.257.0202 for additional information.

 

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