Just like people, animals are prone to dental problems ranging from gum disease to fractured or crooked teeth. Untreated dental problems can cause major health problems throughout the body. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have signs of oral disease by age 3.
Unfortunately, dogs suffer most often from one of the most aggressive types of dental conditions — periodontal disease. In Stage 4 periodontitis, the gums, teeth and bones are being destroyed by chronic bacterial infection. Bacteria also might be spreading throughout the body, possibly damaging the kidneys, liver and heart.
Although tooth decay is relatively unusual in pets, cats are subject to feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions, which cause loss of dental tissue on the crown or at the base of the teeth. The lesions are often covered with gum tissue and affected teeth must be extracted.
The Breckenridge Animal Clinic offers a full range of pet dentistry services, including cleanings, extractions, dental x-ray and surgery. We have a specialized dentistry room to allow us to provide the highest quality of dental care for your pet.
View some dramatic before and after photos to see the difference a cleaning can make!
If you have any questions about our canine and feline dentistry services, please don’t hesitate to call us directly at 970.453.0821 or email us your inquiry.
Canine & Feline Periodontal Diseas & Prevention
At the Breckenridge Animal Clinic, we believe prevention and proper at home care is key to maintaining proper dental hygeine for your dog or cat. Paying close attention to your pet’s dental care on a daily basis can prevent periodontal disease.
The main culprit in periodontal disease is tartar (calculus). When tartar accumulates on the teeth, it causes the gums to recede around the base of the tooth. This leads to infection and the gums recede even more. If left untreated, the infection can spread into the tooth socket. This causes the tooth to oosen and fall out. In advanced cases the bacteria may spread to the blood stream and lead to infections of the heart, kidneys or liver.
Taking Care of Your Pet’s Teeth at Home
Home oral exam: As you care for your dog’s mouth, look for warning signs of gum disease such as bad breath, red and swollen gums, a yellow-brown crust of tartar around the gumline, and pain or bleeding when you touch the gums or mouth. You should also watch for discolored, fractured, or missing teeth. Any bumps or masses within the mouth should also be checked by your veterinarian.
Tooth Brushing: To prevent tartar buildup there’s nothing better than good old-fashioned tooth brushing. Your vet can provide you with the best home dental program for your your pet. This will include a special brush, special toothpaste, instructions on how to brush your cat or dog’s teeth, and a special diet, if necessary. It is important to note that you should never use human dental products on any animal. Human dental products such as toothpaste are not meant to be swallowed. Human toothpaste contains sodium, which can be irritating your pet’s system.
Plaque: Dogs and cats rarely get cavities, but are much more prone to gum disease and excess tartar build-up on the teeth. Food particles and bacteria collect along the gumline forming plaque. Routine home care can remove this plaque.
Tartar: If plaque is not removed, minerals in the saliva combine with the plaque and form tartar (or calculus) which adheres strongly to the teeth. Plaque starts to mineralize 3-5 days after it forms. The tartar is irritating to the gums and causes an inflammation called gingivitis. This can be seen as reddening of the gums adjacent to the teeth. It also causes bad breath. At this point it is necessary to remove the tartar with special instruments called scalers, and then polish the teeth.
Periodontal Disease: If the tartar is not removed, it builds up under the gums. It separates the gums from the teeth to form “pockets” and encourages even more bacterial growth. At this point the damage is irreversible, and called “periodontal” disease. It can be very painful and can lead to loose teeth, abscesses, and bone loss or infection. As bacterial growth continues to increase, the bacteria may enter the bloodstream. This can cause infection of the heart valves (endocarditis), liver, and kidneys. If treated by your veterinarian with special instruments and procedures, periodontal disease can be slowed or stopped.
Cats are subject to feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions, which cause loss of dental tissue on the crown or at the base of the teeth. The lesions are often covered with gum tissue and affected teeth must be extracted. This problem is widespread among felines, afflicting 50 to 80 percent of cats. It is believed to be caused by too much vitamin D in cat foods, so be sure to consult your veterinarian about the proper food for your cat.
In addition to regular brushing at home, you can also use special canine or feline chew toys that help control plaque buildup, and there are a number of dental diets that are specifically designed to help reduce tartar buildup. Before feeding your pet a special diet, you should always discuss the options with your veterinarian.
Canine & Feline Dentistry: Cleaning & Surgery
The Breckenridge Animal Clinic offers experienced vets and veterinary technicians that have quality experience in completing canine and feline dental procedures. Keep in mind that communication and great knowledge of canine dental processes and procedures are telltale signs of a professional and caring animal dentistry operation. A canine or feline dental cleaning has several components. Your vet will explain these components to you in great detail before your cat or dog’s first procedure takes place.
Prior to cleaning and during routine veterinary check-ups, your doctor will complete a oral exam to identify potential problems such as plaque tartar build-up, gingivitis, periodontal disease, and fractured or abscessed teeth.
During an oral exam your veterinarian will:
*Examine the animal’s face and head for
asymmetry, swelling, or discharges.
*Examine the outside surfaces of teeth and
gums, and the “bite”.
*Open the mouth to examine the inner surfaces
of the teeth and gums and the
tongue, palates, oral mucosa, tonsils, and
ventral tongue area.
*Palpate and assess the size, shape, and
consistency of the salivary glands and the lymph
nodes in the neck.
The components of a professional canine dental cleaning include:
* General anesthesia
* Pre-anesthesia blood tests
* Possible antibiotic treatment
* Tooth scaling
* Tooth polishing
* Possible tooth extraction or other procedure
Due to the nature of cleaning a dog’s teeth, general anesthesia will be necessary. This prevents sudden movements by the dog and it minimizes pain. Before anesthesia can be administered, the vet will take a series of pre-anesthesia blood tests to ensure that liver and kidney function are healthy.
If the pet already has an infection, antibiotic treatment may be necessary before scaling and polishing can be performed. Tooth scaling is performed by hand using ultrasonic cleaning equipment to remove tartar buildup above and below the gum line. The final step in the process is tooth polishing which helps to prevent plaque build-up.
During the course of cleaning your dog’s teeth, the veterinarian may come across a tooth that is in such disrepair, that the tooth has to be extracted. Some teeth can be saved by performing a less drastic procedure such as a canine root canal or strengthened by applying fluoride. In these cases, your vet will notify you prior to performing the procedure or administering fluoride applications.
It is important to take your dog to the vet for regular dental checkups to ensure the best dental care. Depending on age, you should take your dog to the dentist every six months. Dogs over three years of age might benefit from twice yearly cleanings. Plaque and tartar can begin forming in less than six hours after teeth have been cleaned!