Dental health is just as important for your pets as getting their yearly vaccinations. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by the age of 3. The American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS) agree that for pets 4 years old and up, that number increases to 100 percent. The gold standard of pet care is brushing your pets teeth once a day using pet specific toothpaste and brushes!
In addition, your pets should be brought in for yearly dental cleanings, just like humans! You may notice your pet having trouble chewing hard kibble, their breath smells horrid, or their gums looks red and irritated. These are good indicators that your pet could use more attention in oral care. Pets can develop chronic dental disease as their mouths are neglected over time.
Our first step is to bring your pet in for an exam with a doctor. One of our skilled veterinarians will look at their gums and teeth to assign a "grade" to help determine the level of oral hygiene of your pet. The grades are divided into 5 sections:
- Grade 0 - No plaque or gingivitis present. Young, healthy dogs and cats between 6 and 12 months of age are often grade 0.
- Grade 1 - Mild gingivitis and plaque are present. A grade 1 condition is often reversible with brushing and appropriate chewing.
- Grade 2 - Mild to moderate tartar (mineralized plaque and bacteria) and gingivitis are present on multiple teeth. Gingivitis is usually reversible after professional scaling and polishing.
- Grade 3 - Heavy tartar and periodontal disease with bone loss are present. With grade 3 patients, oral pain is likely. Tooth lesions and fractures may be present under tartar.
- Grade 4 - Severe tartar, periodontal disease, and oral pain are present. With grade 4 patients, tooth loss is imminent.
At the initial exam, we can schedule a dental cleaning / oral surgery based on your pet's needs. A typical "dental appointment" takes about 90 minutes with your pet being dropped off in the morning and picked up later in the same afternoon. To make an appointment, you can call our office or send us a text through our Pet Desk App.
Our dental surgery area is equipped to handle any size dog or cat. The Doctor and Licensed Veterinary Technician monitor your pet diligently throughout the entire procedure to ensure they are comfortable and responding well.
The photos below are one of our patients before and after having her teeth cleaned. Notice the tartar buildup along the back teeth. While giving your dogs dental chew toys can help them keep their teeth clean, if they don’t chew the toy with ALL of their teeth, which they never do, the result is excess tartar.
Here is what happens when your pet’s teeth are neglected:
1.) Old food sticks to their teeth and turns into tartar.
2.) The tartar builds up along the gums and below the gum line (we call this gingivitis in humans).
3.) The tarter collects bacteria, which gets released into the gums and its blood supply. This can poison the animal over time.
4.) As the bacteria build up in the animal’s body, they spread into the heart, the kidneys and throughout their other organs. Eventually, the disease can overwhelm the animal’s systems and cause irreversible damage.
The video below will help teach you how to care for your pet's teeth. Of course, our staff is also happy to assist you in any way!