There are several options of preventative care depending on the personality of the pet. These three options may be used independently or in combination with each other. The purpose of these three options is to prevent dental tartar which leads to serious dental disease (periodontitis). Once tartar has already been deposited, the only way to effectively and safely remove is with a professional cleaning (scaling and polishing).
1) Brushing – This is the best option.
Brushing works by removing plaque (combination of bacteria and proteins), before it has time to solidify into its evil twin…..tartar.
When starting a routine, many owners are surprised that the pet may actually like to have their teeth brushed. This is due to veterinary toothpaste’s pet friendly taste (IE. chicken, beef, etc.). Toothbrushes can either be “normal” toothbrushes, similar to our toothbrushes, or they can be a finger brush similar to an infants toothbrush. Just 60 – 90 seconds per day is the usual time needed. Once a routine has been started, often times the pet will actually anticipate and even remind the owner that it is time to brush. The most important area to brush is the gum line as this is where tartar starts. Come by SBVH for a free teeth brushing lesson for your pet!
2) Oral Rinses and Water Additives – These are the second best option. These options work by reducing the amount of plaque-forming bacteria in the mouth. By flushing between the cheek and gum once or twice daily or adding solution to fresh water each morning, the amount of bacteria can be reduced.
3) Oral Hygiene Chews – Although these chews are made for both cats and dogs, they tend to be more practical for dogs. Chews are beneficial due to the physical “cleaning” of the tooth and also because they have antibacterial properties. These are a great alternative to the typical “rawhide” which can cause intestinal problems and even obstructions.
Professional care means routine examinations (every 6 to 12 months) to spot early problems, give guidance in oral disease prevention, and when necessary advise a treatment plan. The most common treatment plan is a “dental” procedure described below. This is advised when an excessive amount of dental tartar is present. The rate at which dental tartar deposits on a pet’s teeth depends on how much preventative care is being given at home and on genetic factors of the pet. Certain breeds are also prone to severe dental disease.
SCALING, POLISHING, and DENTAL RADIOGRAPHS (KNOWN AS A “DENTAL”)
This procedure is performed under generalized anesthesia. Generalized anesthesia allows the technician to effectively and safely remove the tartar (scale the teeth) then polish properly. The polishing part of this procedure smooths the surface of the tooth making it more tartar resistant. Dental Radiographs enable us to evaluate the health of the roots, the interior portion of the tooth (pulp chamber), and the periodontium (supporting bone and ligament of tooth). Problems such as tooth root abscesses, root fractures, and resorptive lesions can only be seen with dental radiographs. These problems cause discomfort for the pet when not addressed.