Dental disease in pets is an extremely important part of their health and one that is often neglected. Did you know that 70-80% of pets over the age of 3 have some form of dental disease. Plaque adheres to the tooth surface and if not removed, very quickly forms tartar (a hard, rock-like brown coloured material that is strongly adhered to the tooth surface). Where this tartar or calculus meets the gum, bacteria congregate and gingivitis develops. The progression of gingivitis leads to periodontal disease. The gum eventually erodes and the root of the tooth becomes affected. Once this occurs, the tooth inevitably needs to be extracted. In the above picture, fortunately, periodontal disease had not developed. One can see the beneficial effects of an anaesthetised ultrasonic scale and polish on this pets’ teeth.
Why does my pet need an anaesthetic?
Although an examination of your pet’s mouth and teeth can be done whilst conscious, a full and proper exam can only be done under anaesthetic. The back molars and each tooth pocket can then be explored and measured with a special instrument called a periodontal probe. In cats, FORLs (Feline Oral Resorbtive Lesions) commonly develop and are exceptionally painful. A special FORL probe is used to look at these or even better, if available, dental radiographs. A general anaesthetic is the only way to achieve a complete dental exam as well as a complete tartar cleaning. Without anaesthesia, we would be unable to clean below the gum line (50% of dental disease occurs here), complete calculus removal from the tooth surface is impossible, cleaning the surface of the tooth that faces the inside of the mouth (tongue or lingual surface) is impossible and extractions are also impossible. We also use dental nerve blocks with any extractions to help alleviate pain and hasten recovery after the procedure.
What can I do to help my pet?
Preventative measures pet owners can use to promote oral health are brushing, dental chews (Greenies, OraVet) and dental diets (Royal Canin Dental biscuits). Performing regular oral checks is also vital. Please do not give chicken necks or wings as these do not promote dental health and can cause other more serious problems!
Our Dental Focus
From July until September we are repeating our very popular Dental Focus where you can book your pet in for a FREE dental check with one of our vets. We are passionate about dental health and would like your pet to live a healthy life with all of his/ her teeth intact. Book now at reception for your pets FREE dental check.