Over the years our furry friends have become treasured members of our family. We have been adapting them to our human way of living and eating. Due to evolutionary lifestyle changes, we see different diseases advancing in them. In this blog we would like to touch on dental disease which has become a common health concern in domesticated dogs and cats.
How does dental disease present itself to you?
Early signs of dental disease often go unnoticed if we aren’t lifting our pets lips routinely, to have a look at all of their teeth. Now this can be be hard to do, so we offer complimentary six-monthly nurse dental exams. These ensure we stay on top of any changes, as prevention is better than treatment.
As dental disease progresses you may notice bad breath, yellow or brown muck on your pet’s teeth or their gums might be red and inflamed which is painful. Once dental disease is advanced, your pet may start to have trouble eating, favour chewing on one side of their mouth or they may drool. If left untreated it can decrease the general health and wellbeing of your fur friend, as it can damage the heart and kidneys, all of which could decrease the lifespan of your treasured friend. In the worst case scenarios, pets lose their teeth due to the amount of decay they have suffered from.
Canine mouth before and after COHAT.
There are many ways to combat dental disease in cats and dogs. Our aim is to capture and treat dental disease early to ensure all pets keep all of their teeth for their whole life!
The first step in combating dental disease in pets, is to focus on home care. This can be done by feeding a veterinary prescribed dental diet such as Hills T/d, treats such as Greenies, oral gels like Maxiguard, pigs ears or rawhide chews and even certain toys can also make a difference. The best way to prevent dental disease in our cats and dogs at home is to brush their teeth! Yes you heard it right, brush their teeth. Our team are experienced at teaching you how to perform this task. Check this video out for instructions from Dr Melanie
What do I do if I have noticed some of the listed symptoms above?
If you have noticed smelly breath or tartar on your pets teeth, call our friendly team to make a complimentary dental appointment with one of our nurses. Our nurse will be able to let you know the current health of your pets teeth and the best course of action.
Dental disease is graded depending on its severity. Veterinary professionals grade the amount of plaque and tartar on the teeth as well as the amount of inflammation to the gums, otherwise known as gingivitis.
Often a dental clean under anaesthetic may be required to ensure the teeth and gums have the best chance of a long and healthy life. Once a professional dental prophylaxis has been performed and the teeth are squeaky clean, we can focus on home care.
What does a dental procedure at Swan Street Veterinary and Wellness Centre include?
At Swan Street Vet we ensure your pet receives a comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment or COHAT.
This begins with a conscious oral exam on your pet, we may use a dental UV torch to identify the extent of plaque formation on the surface of the teeth, as the light makes the plaque glow ‘pink’. We will gauge if there are inflamed gums, or obvious abnormalities to the mouth. As I am sure you can appreciate, not many dogs and cats are happy about their mouths being held open for too long and we do not want to put any pet under unnecessary stress. Therefore the best way to assess the health of all teeth is to have a light general anaesthetic. Dog and cat molars are often hard to see until they are asleep and these teeth commonly have health problems.
All patients requiring a COHAT under anaesthetic will undergo a full health exam and a pre-anaesthetic blood test to ensure they are well enough to proceed.
Once your pet has been granted a fit bill of health, they will be admitted to our quiet hospital. We will administer a premedication which consists of sedation and pain relief. They will be placed on an intravenous drip. The intravenous fluids help to keep your pet hydrated, maintain their blood pressure throughout the anaesthetic and ensure a smooth and quick recovery.
Each and every pet’s anaesthetic will be monitored by a dedicated veterinary nurse using advanced monitoring equipment.
Our team will take photos of your pets teeth before and after we clean them, so you can see the results.
The vet will assess each tooth, probe the gingival pockets and record their findings on a dental chart, you will also receive a copy of this.
We will then perform oral radiographs. Quite often a tooth can look healthy above the surface, but underneath the gum line the tooth roots can be unwell, causing pain and concern for you fur-kid. Without dental x-rays, conditions under the gum line can go unnoticed, especially in cats, as 60% of each tooth is below the gum. See our pictures below, which demonstrate why dental x-rays are so important.
As you can see the below teeth have tartar but otherwise look OK.
Upon x-ray we found two oral resorptive lesions on the lower teeth.
These two painful teeth were surgically removed.
Research tells us, that most dental build up begins under the gum line. Without an anaesthetic most pets will not allow us to clean under their gums. If they did but then happened to move while we were doing this, we could cause pain and trauma to the mouth and patient. Research also tells us that hand scaling teeth alone can cause scratches and damage to the tooth surface leading to further damage and build up of plaque and tartar.
We use an ultrasonic dental scaler and polisher, much the same as the one your dentist would use on your teeth. Our modern equipment means the best treatment and care for your loved one.
All pets will be given pain relief at our discretion depending on the severity of the disease. If we clean the teeth before the dental disease is too advanced, there shouldn’t be too much pain associated with the dental prophylaxis, but again we don’t want any pet to experience any discomfort at any stage.
So if you are concerned about your pets dental health or they are suffering from bad breath, tartar, drooling or eating difficulties, please give our friendly team a call to book your complimentary dental exam with a nurse. If you would like a tour of our facilities, feel free to ask. We will thoroughly care for your fur-kid and their dental health every step of the way!