Dental Disease

WOAH NELLIE!  If your dog or cat's breath could peel the paint from a building, there may be a reason.  Dental Disease is the most common disease in our pets, affecting 78% of dogs and 68% of cats over the age of 3! 

Signs and symptoms of Dental problems include: 

  • Bad Breath
  • Red, Swollen Gums (Gingivitis)
  • Difficulty Eating/Chewing
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at the Mouth or Face
  • Heavy Tartar
  • Bleeding from the Mouth

You may be wondering how dental disease happens.  Plaque, which is bacteria adhered to the enamel or outer surface of the teeth, continues to harden into tartar if left untreated.  Plaque is easily removed by brushing the teeth.  If left unchecked, the plaque hardens into tartar, which leads to gingivitis when bacteria crawl along the tooth surface and eventually invade under the gumline.  Periodontal disease then begins as the bacteria infect the area around the tooth root and can create loosening of the teeth or tooth root abscesses.  Occasionally this bacteria will enter the blood stream and settle in other organs such as the heart, liver, or kidneys.   Once this infection becomes established, it can be life-threatening.

To combat dental disease, annual checkups of the teeth and gums are essential.  A Dental Cleaning (or Prophylaxis) may be recommended.  Most dogs will need an annual Prophylaxis to stay healthy.  A dental cleaning includes: Pre-anesthetic Blood Work, Anesthesia – a light plane of anesthesia is what we use here (unless extractions or other oral surgery is planned), ultrasonic scaling of the teeth and under the gumline, polishing of all teeth, and application of a fluoride foam treatment.  After a Dental Cleaning, brushing the teeth is the absolute best way to ensure a healthy mouth and will significantly prolong the time between necessary Prophylactic Cleanings.  Small and toy breed dogs tent to have compromised enamel and will need more frequent Dental Cleanings, whereas larger breeds may need less frequent Cleanings. 

There are many ways to help improve your pet's oral health including:


Enzymatic Dental Chews – enzymes activated by saliva while chewing help break down plaque and fight bacteria in the mouth

Water Additives – also contain enzymes that help control oral bacteria

Special Diets – such as Hill's t/d – are large chunks of food that contain a fibrous matrix to mechanically break down tartar as the dog chews

During the month of February we would like to promote oral health in our 4-legged family memebers by extending a wonderful 20% discount on all things Dental!  If you think your pet could benefit from a dental cleaning, please call and one of our excellent staff members would be happy to assist you!


Dr. B


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