Regular dental care is important to maintaining your pet's teeth and protecting your pet's health. Dental disease is the most common disease affecting pets. By the age of three, the majority of dogs and cats are already suffering from dental disease.
Left untreated, dental disease causes pets to die an average of two years earlier than they could have lived with good dental care.Of course, we all know that broken or decayed teeth or infected gums are painful for your pet and can lead to feeding or behavior problems. But, many people don't realize that an unhealthy mouth can also lead to an unhealthy body, causing life-threatening infections. Gingivitis and periodontal disease (inflammation and infection of the gums) serves as a source of bacteria that can spread throughout the body causing potentially life threatening infections of the heart or kidneys. Nearly all adult pets who are not receiving regular professional dental cleanings will have some degree of periodontal disease.
How bad does an infected, abscessed or rotting tooth hurt? How painful is it to crunch down on hard food or with swollen, bleeding, tender gums? How sad does it feel when your favorite person in the world turns away in disgust when you try to give them a kiss? If our pets could talk, most of them could answer these questions because the vast majority of adult dogs and cats have serious, untreated dental disease. Before After
Dental Disease may cause:
- bad breath
- tooth loss
- organ damage
- death when the bacteria from the infected mouth travel to vital organs.
Just like people, cats and dogs need routine dental cleanings and care to protect their teeth, gums and their overall health. In fact, dogs and cats accumulate tartar and calculus much faster than people do so dental disease in pets can progress surprisingly quickly. The AAHA Dental Care guidelines recommend annual professional dental exams and cleanings for all pets beginning at the age of two for large breed dogs and beginning at the age of one for small dogs and cats.
We realize that pet dental care is a new idea to many people and even many of our best clients don't yet understand just how important it is to take care of our pet's teeth and gums. We are committed to doing our part to change this! Our Dental Health FAQs on this page offers answers to many of the most frequently asked questions about dental health and our professional dental services.
An oral exam is part of every complete physical exam, so if your pet is due for an exam or vaccinations, come in and we will check your pet's oral health at that time. If the doctor feels that your pet's health will benefit from a dental cleaning, we will discuss a treatment plan with you, prepare an estimate and schedule needed services.
Once your pet's teeth are clean, we will help you learn how to keep them clean at home. As part of the dental procedure, the technician will apply a barrier sealant called Oravet. We apply this concentrated sealant to help prevent any future plaque build up. We will also send you a complimentary application from the Oravet Take Home Kit. This at home application is recommended following the procedure so that you may continue at home care & prevention for your pet's teeth.
If you choose to continue this at home application weekly, it may eliminate the need for regular brushing. Applying Oravet is easy to do and we can teach you how following your pet's dental cleaning.
Another line of defense against plaque & tarter is regular brushing. We can also help you learn how to brush your pet's teeth and find a home dental care program that works for you & your pet.
Keeping your pet's teeth healthy will give your pet a healthier, happier, longer life. As an added bonus, clean teeth give your pet sweet breath!
Have More Questions??
Within our Dental Health FAQs, you will find answers to. . .
How common is dental disease?
Dental disease is the most common serious ailment in cats and dogs! 85% of adult dogs and cats have periodontal disease. The incidence and severity of dental disease increases as pets age. In fact, the vast majority of cats and dogs 3 years of age or older have dental disease and are in need of professional dental care.
Is dental disease painful?
Dental disease is very painful. Study after study has shown that cats and dogs experience pain like we do, but actively hide their pain from observers. This instinct to hide their pain protected them from predators in their original wild state, but now it makes it harder for us to help our pets because we sometimes have to look for very subtle signs of pain. Surely, if we could know what pain they experience, we would be much more likely to aggressively treat it. Protecting our pets from the agony of decaying and infected teeth and gums is one of the most important things we can do to keep our pets healthy, comfortable and happy.
Can dental health affect my pet's behavior?
Yes!! Many owners report dramatic improvements in their pet's behavior, playfulness and reduced crankiness after dental treatment. These behavior improvements are most likely the result of the relief from chronic severe pain.
This is all new to me! Why haven't I heard about pet dental care before?
Medicine evolves!! These medical advances are why pets (and people!) now live longer lives than ever before. Just a few years ago, most veterinarians often waited until dental disease was very advanced (and irreversible) before strongly recommending professional dental care. Today we know that we must prevent problems from becoming severe instead of allowing them to worsen for years before helping. With our new understanding of the importance of dental health, modern veterinarians are rapidly acquiring the knowledge and equipment needed to properly prevent and treat dental disease.
Recent advances in veterinary dentistry allow us to prevent, treat and cure dental disease much more effectively than we could only a few years ago. Just a few years ago, quality veterinary dentistry was practiced by just a handful of specialists. General practice veterinarians were limited by our training and tools to very basic and incomplete dentistry so most pets simply did without. Things are changing rapidly today. In late 2005, the first national veterinary dental guidelines (the AAHA Dental Care Guidelines) were published by leaders in the field after reviewing decades of research. For the first time, the best veterinary dentists in the world came together and provided us guidance about exactly what we primary care veterinarians need to do to care for our patients' oral health and when and how we need to do it.
By investing in top quality tools (very similar to those in your own dentist's office) and committing ourselves to practicing the best possible primary care dentistry, we have become able to better diagnose and treat many common dental problems. High speed drills, excellent new dental antibiotics and other medications and tools have added great dental power to our practice. Veterinarians are rapidly learning how to use these new technologies to benefit our patients. By taking our dentistry practice to "the next level", we can now add quality and quantity to our patient's lives through better dentistry.
Now that veterinarians know how to provide good dental care, why aren't more pets getting it?
We know it's not because owners don't care. Many studies have shown that Americans generally consider our pets members of our families and we want to do what's best for them. And, I know many very loving owners whose pets haven't gotten the dental care they need over the years. I know that many pet owners would be providing better dental care if they understood how effective it can be in keeping their pets healthy, extending their lives and making them so much more comfortable. So, it's not a lack of caring. Why then? We think the reason most pets aren't getting the dental care they need boils down to us vets not doing a good enough job providing the information to owners and committing to providing high quality dental care to patients.
At what age should dental care start?
Dental care should begin as soon as you bring your new pet home with daily tooth brushing with pet toothpaste. The earlier you begin, the more quickly your pet will come to accept or even look forward to his dental care.
What do I need to do at home?
Good home care is essential to maintaining or improving dental health. Daily (or at least 3 times per week) tooth brushing is the gold standard of preventive home dental care. OraVet Plaque Prevention Gel can supplement regular brushing or can help if brushing is not a good option for you.
Our nurses will gladly show you how to take care of your pet's teeth at home to keep them their best between professional cleanings. We will work with you to find an effective, simple at home dental care routine that works for you and your pet. Because we realize that home dental care is essential to maintaining dental health, educating you about proper home care is our duty. Ask any time for more information or coaching.
Is there anything we should do for our puppy's (or kitten's) teeth?
The best thing you can do for your pet's dental health is to begin daily tooth brushing when you first bring your pet home. The earlier you accustom your pet to the tooth brush, the easier it will be!
You will also contribute to your pet's dental health by choosing a "hard" or kibble type food. The dry foods that enable your pet to crunch when he/she eats are less likely to stick to the gum line like most soft or canned foods. This is important because the gum line is where we see the first effects from Dental Disease caused from gingivitis.
Is it ever too late for dental care?
If it's not too late for your pet, it's not too late to take care of her mouth! With proper care, dental disease is both preventable and treatable. Caught early, dental disease can often be cured. Even when caught later, effective treatment is still available to prevent the progression of the disease and prevent complications such as organ damage and further tooth loss. Sometimes owners think their pet is "too old" or "too sick" for anesthesia and dentistry, but usually the benefits of relieving the infection and pain of oral disease far outweigh the risks of the procedure. Owners are often pleasantly surprised by how young and sprightly their older pet can behave after treatment for periodontal disease.
Is the Dental Procedure safe?
Yes!! The risks of dental disease far outweigh the risks of treatment. As with every procedure we do, we take every reasonable precaution to keep your pet safe and comfortable before, during and after the procedure. We adhere to high safety and patient care standards. Modern anesthesia monitoring, patient warming, sterile techniques and anesthetic and pain management plans customized to the need of each patient are just a few of the things we do to safeguard our patients' wellbeing.
Before placing your pet under anesthesia, it is important to identify any health issues that may make anesthesia higher risk. The comprehensive physical exam the veterinarian performs before surgery can identify many concerns and blood testing will identify many infections, organ dysfunction and other conditions that are not apparent through physical exam.
If the doctor finds any abnormal results, he will talk with you about how we can address any health concerns before proceeding with surgery. Sometimes we may need to delay the anesthesia until we have addressed any problems, but most often we can proceed with the dentistry with consideration of any special precautions that are indicated and follow up with any additional needed treatment after surgery.
How does an IV Catheter and IV fluids before & during dentistry make it safer?
The IV Catheter provides us with immediate access to a vein for administering drugs and/or fluids. This is a vital safety precaution for every anesthetized patient. Additional fluids are important because they help protect your pet's kidneys and other organs by helping to maintain blood pressure during surgery.
How does fluoride help?
A fluoride treatment helps harden the tooth enamel to protect against decay and also helps desensitize the teeth to prevent pain. Fluoride can only be applied under anesthesia since it is toxic to dogs and cats and must be wiped away before the pet can swallow it.
What does OraVet Dental Sealant do?
OraVet sealant is a two step process that helps seal out plaque and bacteria and prevent decay. After we apply the Sealant while your pet is under anesthesia, you follow up with quick and easy once-a-week applications of OraVet Plaque Prevention Gel at home to refresh the seal. OraVet can be used alone or along with brushing for optimum protection.
Will my pet be in pain afterwards?
No! Your pet will be relieved from the pain of dental disease!! The veterinarian will prescribe appropriate pain medications to help your pet through any temporary pain due to any needed extractions or surgery.
Why must you anesthetize my pet? Can't you do it "awake"?
Meaningful dental care is not possible on an "awake" animal. Only after the patient is under anesthesia can a comprehensive oral exam begin. These thorough exams very often uncover startlingly serious dental problems that are not apparent without anesthesia.
Properly cleaning the teeth involves scaling below the gum line and scraping away the tartar from any roots that are exposed or where the gum has separated from the tooth root ("pockets"). This is uncomortable or even painful and just can't be done properly on an "awake" animal.
How is the cost of this procedure of value to me, my pet, and Linwood Animal Hospital?
Preventing dental disease is cheap. Treating advanced dental disease can be expensive. One of the most sensible comments I've heard about dentistry was, "Pay a little now or a lot later." Those few dollars a year and few minutes a day may be the best investment you can make in your pet's health! It is always easier, safer and cheaper to prevent disease or to treat it when caught at an early stage than to treat more advanced disease. So, the best thing for your pet's health and your wallet is to address dental health issues early, thoroughly and regularly!!
Unfortunately, when it comes to medicine, quality costs. The Dental Procedure is a complicated, staff intensive, anesthetized medical (and often surgical) procedure that requires well-trained staff and a well-equipped hospital to do correctly. We invest in top quality staff and modern equipment. We take the time needed to provide meticulous care to our patients and thoughtful service to our clients. When faced with a choice of material, technique or equipment, we make the choices that make our procedures safer, more effective, less painful and in other ways superior to the alternatives.
We have made an ethical commitment to provide safe and humane care to all our patients. Because of this commitment, we routinely include all the essential elements of a safe, effective and humane procedure on all estimates (pain medications, IV catheter, IV fluids, patient warming, anesthesia monitoring, comprehensive dental assessment including charting, age appropriate pre-anesthetic safety blood testing, etc.).
These important items may be "optional" add-on services at other practices, or, in other cases may not even be available at all. We are happy to explain our fees to you any time you have a concern. Comparing apples to apples, we are comfortable that we provide good value to our patients and clients and we know that we charge only what we need to in order to keep our doors open, keep practicing good medicine and keep compensating our staff fairly.
When it comes to our patients, our desire is to provide them with the best that veterinary medicine has to offer so that their quality of life is better and they have more time to spend with you, their families. We take pride in our Dental Procedure & Prevention. When we are able to provide quality medicine to our patients, we feel like they are not alone in the benefits of the dental procedure. The staff here at Linwood Animal Hospital are very thankful for the ability to provide our patients and their families with the care they deserve.
"Devoting ourselves to the care of our patients and their families!"