Most people are familiar with the consequences of dental disease, such as halitosis (bad breath), pain, and eventual loss of teeth. Your pet may not demonstrate dental pain except by a gradual inability to chew his or her food, resulting in possible weight loss, vomiting, or general malaise. More importantly, medical research has repeatedly documented the correlation between periodontal (gum) disease and health problems such as (valvular) heart, kidney, and liver disease in both dogs and cats. Experts believe that proper dental care and treatment are vital to maintaining longevity and a good quality of life for your pet.
A proper dental prophy treatment does NOT just involve scraping the visible calculus (mineralized tartar) from the surfaces of the teeth. While this is most effectively performed with the aid of an ultrasonic scaler (identical to the one your dentist uses on you), the more important work is done by probing beneath the gum-line to determine the extent of recession beneath the teeth. This in turn determines the extent of periodontal disease. At this time, the presence of fractured teeth and other oral abnormalities are noted and treated accordingly.
The teeth are then polished in order to smooth the surface of the enamel and minimize any small indentations where tartar may form. Finally, a protective sealant (Ora-Vet) is applied to the outer surfaces of the teeth as a further measure to inhibit bacteria from adhering to the teeth and producing dental tartar.
Frequently Asked Questions Related to Veterinary Dentistry:
Why is general anesthesia needed for my pet’s dentistry?
The primary reasons for administering a general anesthetic is to keep the patient immobile and free of pain. It would be improper to perform any medical procedure such as removing tartar from below the gum line without controlling discomfort associated with that procedure. In addition, having the patient immobile minimizes the chances for any injury occurring during the procedure.
Will my pet need to have any teeth extracted?
Teeth that are loose or whose roots are exposed due to gum recession from advanced periodontal disease are best extracted to help insure the continued long-term health of the patient. We have recently purchased a state-of-the-art digital dental X-Ray unit to help determine which teeth can be saved and which need to be removed. Even leaving one tooth with advanced periodontal disease in the patient can negate the benefits of a dental prophy procedure.
What is recommended for follow-up care?
As previously stated, our goal in treating your pet’s dental problems is to prevent more serious complications and to eliminate pain associated with dental disease. Therefore, we would like to help your pet maintain a healthy mouth for as long as possible after his or her prophy. Please ask the doctor or veterinary technician about home dental care options including specially formulated toothpastes, hygienic oral solutions, tartar-control diets and protective (Ora-Vet) dental sealant applicator kits.