Dental health goes beyond your pet’s pearly whites and affects their overall health. Dental infections and diseases can be concerning, but with care, patience, and perseverance, you can make sure your pet lives a happy, healthy life.

3 Common Dental Diseases in Pets

1. Fractured teeth

Our dogs and cats can be a little adventurous, and these adventures can lead to accidents. Dogs might think a rock looks tasty, and cats might jump down and hit their face. Either of these scenarios can lead to a fractured tooth. It can be difficult to notice symptoms, so if your pet is having trouble eating or playing with hard toys, then he might have a fractured tooth.

Be sure to contact us as soon as possible if you think your pet’s teeth are damaged. Tooth fractures can lead to an infection, abscess, or other issue if left untreated. Our Doctor can determine the best treatment plan for your pet, which may include extraction, pain medication, antibiotics, or soft food.

2. Gingivitis

Gingivitis develops after bacteria or tartar builds up in between your pet’s gums and teeth. This buildup causes infection and inflammation in the gums. Gingivitis can be hard to spot at first, but if you notice bad breath, loss of appetite, or sensitivity to touch, it’s time to get those teeth checked out!

Luckily, gingivitis is reversible with proper care. Professional teeth cleaning combined with a home dental routine can help your pet fight gingivitis and avoid more serious infections.

3. Periodontal disease

If left untreated, severe cases of gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease. The tissue around the tooth is called the periodontium. When this tissue becomes infected or inflamed, periodontal disease develops. Periodontal disease is the most common dental disease in pets, and it is the main cause of tooth loss. This unpleasant condition can lead to heart disease, liver damage, or kidney damage.

Periodontal disease is the most frequently diagnosed problem in small animal veterinary medicine. By age 3 years, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will suffer from some form of periodontal disease. Stage 1 of periodontal disease, also known as gingivitis, is entirely reversible. Stages 2 through 4 are not. These facts serve as the rationale given for early, proactive, preventive action against periodontal disease. Following the 4 stages of periodontitis.

Stage 1: The only reversible stage of periodontal disease is characterized by inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and no bone loss, with the first clinical sign being bleeding upon probing.

Stage 2: Characterized by up to 25% of bone loss, with no tooth movement, a tooth in stage 2 can still be saved with proper treatment such as root planning.

Stage 3: Characterized by 26-50% of bone loss and movement, a tooth in this stage may be saved with bone grafting, but most likely will be removed due to the expense of bone grafting.

Stage 4: Also known as advanced periodontitis, stage 4 is characterized by greater than 50% bone loss and the need for extraction.

Treatment will depend on how severe your pet’s case is and can include deep scaling or oral surgery. Fortunately, with help from our doctor, periodontal disease is preventable. Regular dental appointments, professional cleaning, and home dental care can help prevent periodontal disease and keep your pet protected.

Dental Procedure:

  • Complete physical examination, including bloodwork and ECG Screen (about heart condition for 5 yo and up pets)
  • Pets need to be anesthetized during their dental procedure. Anesthesia is necessary because it allows your pet to be still so the doctor can conduct a thorough examination of the whole oral cavity (including below the gumline), take x-rays (to look for “hidden diseases”), and fully and safely clean your pet’s teeth. This also ensures a safe and comfortable experience for your pet by reducing their level of anxiety, stress, and pain. In addition, it protects their airway from any water or debris caused by scaling away the dental plaque and tartar that finds its way down into your pet’s lungs during the procedure.
  • Dental prophylaxis(scaling, cleaning, polish ) refers to a routine dental cleaning. The animal's teeth will be inspected and cleaned as a preventative measure against any, or any further, dental issues.
  • Dental Radiographs: Consider you are only seeing approximately half of the tooth structure without dental radiographs. Radiography findings help better assess the best course of treatment for the patient, it may include oral surgery (extractions).
  • Barrier sealants: OraVet is a plaque and calculus prevention system that has been shown to significantly decrease plaque and calculus formation at four and eight weeks after application.
  • Reporting: You will receive at the discharge appointment a detailed explanation of the whole process and a report with radiographs, pictures before and after, finding and treatment.

How frequently a dog or cat should receive an anesthetic dental cleaning?

There is not a “canned” answer to this question. Patients are different in how quickly they develop calculus, plaque and periodontal disease. Most patients will benefit from a yearly professional dental cleaning; some may need more frequent care. Some patients may need less frequent cleanings, especially if effective home care is occurring between cleanings. The master key is observation, prevention, home care and periodically dental examinations.