At Slade Veterinary Hospital, Inc., we know that pets can develop dental problems just like people do. The American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) cites that more than 80% of dogs have some dental disease by the age of three. Dental disease is frequently diagnosed problem but is entirely preventable.
Signs of dental disease include:
- Yellow or brown buildup (tartar) at the gum line
- Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Excessive drooling
- Pawing at the mouth
- Difficulty eating
- Loose or missing teeth
Even though your pet may be symptom-free, we recommend a veterinarian assess your pet’s teeth at the time of their annual exam, or at least once a year. Dental disease is a progressive condition and can be incredibly painful, so if these are symptoms are noted, we will often recommend a professional dental cleaning.
A professional dental cleaning requires general anesthesia. Although this may sound alarming, anesthesia is essential for veterinary dental procedures as it allows us to completely examine the mouth and provide care above and below the gum line. For more information on anesthesia and dental cleanings, please visit the AVDC website. In order to provide optimal dental care, we do not perform non-anesthetic dental cleanings.
As with surgery, we recommend a pre-dental examination to formulate a plan for your pet’s procedure. At this time, we will also perform pre-dental labwork, as necessary.
Once a patient is safely anesthetized, dental radiographs are performed to assess tooth integrity. This equipment is highly-specialized and separate from our standard radiography machine. After all the teeth have been assessed and imaged, dental cleaning begins. Areas above and below the gum line are thoroughly scaled, polished, and irrigated to remove tartar buildup. Finally, a fluoride treatment is applied to strengthen the teeth and reduce sensitivity.
The most common oral surgery performed is tooth extractions since the degree of disease, health status of the patient, and financial constraints often make this the best option in our pets. If a crown or a root canal is desirable, we will refer you to a board-certified veterinary dentist.
Indications for extraction may include:
- Fractured teeth
- Feline oral resorptive lesions
- Advanced periodontal disease
- Inflammatory disease
- Orthodontic disease resulting in oral trauma
- Extra or crowded teeth
Although extractions sound severe, the elimination of pain and risk of infection make it well worth the effort.
Pictured: Leigh with Whimsy in dental suite.