Pet Dental Care: General Information
Dental calculus (tartar) is composed of various mineral salts, organic material and food particles. In the early stages of accumulation, the material is soft (plaque) but later hardens and adheres to the teeth. Continual accumulation causes inflammation of the gums and eventual recession of the gums and loose teeth. The breath becomes very odorous and the mouth becomes a dangerous source of infection. This “periodontal disease” may cause diarrhea, vomiting, and irritability.
Untreated tooth and gum disease may allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream and cause damage to the valves of the heart, as well as kidney infections.
Pet Dental Care: Prevention
- Feed hard or coarse foods (dry food preferable).
- Provide rawhide, hard rubber or hard treat foods.
- Brush your pet’s teeth periodically using a pet toothpaste or use alternative pet dentifrice products.
- Schedule regular dental check-ups at least yearly and schedule regular professional cleaning by your Veterinarian.
- See our latest blog post regarding dental care for pets in Orange County, CA.
Pet Dental Care: Teeth Cleaning
Every dental cleaning includes a complete physical exam, teeth scaling, polishing, antiseptic flushing and fluoride coating. Your pet can be dropped off in the morning and generally picked-up at the end of the day.
- Laboratory testing to determine anesthesia safety.
- Use of light anesthesia to ensure pet comfort and thorough cleaning and treatment.
- Scaling of the teeth to remove tartar above and below the gum line is done with both hand instruments and ultrasonic cleaning equipment.
- Polishing the teeth after scaling is important to “smooth down” the surfaces, to increase resistance of plaque formation.
- Antiseptic flushing rids the mouth of bacteria protecting gums during the cleaning.
- Fluoride coating decreases teeth sensitivity, strengthens enamel, fights bacteria, decreases plaque formation.
Common Pet Dental Care Questions From Orange County Pet Owners
- What is tartar and gingivitis?
Tartar, or dental calculus, is the buildup of food, bacteria, and other residues on your pet’s teeth that lead to gum infections or gingivitis.
- Can dirty teeth be harmful to my pet?
Dirty teeth will cause bad breath, eventual loss of teeth due to infection; and may even lead to generalized infections in your pet due to the bacteria entering the blood stream. Heart disease and kidney disease are very common as a result of “dirty teeth.”
- What do you do when you clean my pet’s teeth?
Your pet is given a physical exam and any needed laboratory work to ensure your pet’s well-being prior to the procedure. Your pet is then sedated. Teeth are then hand-scaled, cleaned with ultra-sound equipment, and polished, very similar to human dentistry. A fluoride treatment is then applied. Necessary extractions are performed when the teeth roots have been destroyed by infection.
- What is expected of me?
Your pet should have no food after 8:00 p.m. the night prior to your scheduled appointment. Water is restricted in the morning. We request that you bring your pet to the hospital between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., so that we can start the procedure early in the morning. This allows your pet to go home between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
- What about extractions?
Only the Veterinarian can determine which teeth should be extracted, and which loose teeth can be saved. This is often impossible to determine until the pet is properly sedated, due to the possible pain in the gum area.
- What about antibiotics?
Antibiotics may be given prior to, and then after the dental cleaning (and possible extractions) to fight any bacteria present. In many severe infections, antibiotics will be prescribed for several days and then an appointment is scheduled for a recheck. Be SURE to continue antibiotics until instructed not to do so! Use the entire contents of any prescribed medications before stopping.
- What can I do at home after cleaning?
Soft food should be fed for 1 to 2 days due to the soreness. Gums and teeth are often a little sensitive for 3-4 days after cleaning. Daily use of a prescribed dentifrice is most important to prevent future problems. Many pets (especially over 5 years of age) will require dental cleaning procedures every 6-12 months to maintain optimum oral hygiene.