Dental Questions and Their Answers
should I brush my pet's teeth?
removal of plaque is the key to an effective oral hygiene program. Unless
your pet's teeth are brushed daily, plaque, which is an accumulation
of bacteria, will build up at the gum line. Eventually, calculus forms,
further irritating the gums, causing infection that progress to destroy
the attachment around your pet's teeth. In addition to creating loose
teeth, infection under the gum line can spread to the liver, kidneys,
can I brush my pet's teeth?
It is usually a very easy and fun procedure. First, pick a soft-bristled
or finger toothbrush. Next, get toothpaste from your veterinarian. Do
not use toothpaste intended for humans because it has detergents that
should not be swallowed. Apply a small amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush
and brush the outside of the upper check teeth. Concentrate on the area
where the tooth meets the gum line.
often does my pet need to have its teeth cleaned by the veterinarian?
It depends on the degree of plaque and tartar accumulation. Examine
your pet's teeth monthly. Look for an accumulation of yellow or brown
material at the area where the tooth meets the gum line. Pay particular
attention to the check teeth and canines.
you notice plaque or tartar accumulation, it is time for a professional
cleaning. Do not wait. Attached to the tartar are bacteria that are
irritating gum tissues. When treated, inflammation will be resolved.
When gingivitis is left untreated, it will progress to periodontitis,
which is nonreversible.
The intervals between teeth-cleaning procedures will depend on how often
you can brush your pet's teeth. Once daily is optimum. If you cannot
brush your pet's teeth consider a special diet by Hills called T/D.
This food has an oversized kibble your pet must bite, resulting in a
wiping effect on the whole tooth.
I just take my fingernail or a dental scaler to remove calculus?
Dental disease occurs below the gum line. By removing calculus from
the visible part of the tooth, you are not removing disease below the
gum line. In order to help your pet, plaque and calculus must be removed
from below the gum line.
you have to use anesthetics to clean my pet's teeth?
Anesthesia is necessary when performing teeth cleaning. Anesthesia provides
three important functions: immobilization in order to clean below the
gum line, pain control and the ability to place a tube into the windpipe
so bacterial products do not enter the respiratory system.
am concerned about anesthesia. Is it safe?
We take every effort to ensure anesthetics are safely administered.
We use the safest of anesthetic agents. All dogs and cats are given
preoperative test, depending on their age and condition, to qualify
then as candidates for anesthesia. Finally, while anesthetized, all
animals are monitored with pulse oximeter and respiratory monitor.
much does a tooth-cleaning procedure cost?
It is difficult to quote what the procedure will cost because we do
not know what state your pet's teeth and gums are in. There are three
levels of teeth cleanings at our hospital. The range of fees is based
on severity plus fees for preoperative testing, anesthesia, necessary
therapy, and medication. The doctor or staff will be happy to give you
an estimate once you bring your dog or cat in for the examination.
is best to feed my pet?
There are special diets specifically manufactured to help keep dogs'
and cats' teeth clean (Hills T/D). Feeding these special diets in conjunction
with regular brushing is the best way to keep the teeth clean. Diet
alone will not control plaque, but it will help.
toys should I avoid to protect my pet's teeth?
Chewing on objects harder than the tooth may lead to dental fractures.
Be especially careful with cow and horse hooves. They commonly cause
fractures of the upper check teeth. Do not play tug-of-war games, especially
with young dogs and cats, because they can move growing teeth to abnormal
locations. Throwing dogs Frisbees can also cause trauma to the teeth
resulting in pulpitis (discolored teeth).
are cat cavities?
Many cats get painful lesions at the gum line that invade the teeth.
The lesions are referred to as feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions
(FORLs). Recent research indicates that in cats over 5 years of age
there is a 72% chance he or she may have a FORL.
can I tell if my pet is suffering from periodontal disease?
leading sign is bad breath. Dogs and cats should not have disagreeable
mouth odor. Bad breath comes from infection. If your pet's breath does
not smell like roses, let us examine its mouth and advise care.
types of tests are done to diagnose dental disease?
If periodontal disease is present or if your pet has a fractured tooth,
an oral exam is performed while the pet is under anesthesia. A periodontal
probe is used to evaluate bone loss around each tooth. Radiographs are
taken to evaluate if teeth can be saved or need to be extracted.
When do I have to start worrying about dental
problems with my pet?
As soon as puppy or kitten teeth emerge, it's time to start brushing.
Although baby teeth are replaced with adult teeth, the puppy or kitten
gets used to the brushing procedure, which continues for life.
can be done if my pet has periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease occurs when tooth support structures are affected
by infection. In the beginning stages, cleaning above and below the
gum line as well as removal of calculus attached to the tooth will help
restore periodontal health. In advanced cases, either periodontal surgery
or extractions are performed. Antibiotics given monthly also help to
control the progression of periodontal disease.
animals are at most risk for periodontal disease?
Smaller breeds are more prone than larger because the teeth are closer
together in small dogs, and these dogs usually live longer. Terriers,
Maltese, Schnauzer, Cocker spaniels, and Shih Tzus are especially prone
to periodontal disease.
What can you do to fix a broken tooth?
your dog or cat breaks its tooth, there are two treatments: root canal
therapy to save the tooth or extraction. Leaving the tooth alone with
an exposed nerve is not a humane option. In addition to pain, infection
will develop, which can spread to vital organs.