How often do you brush your own teeth? Most people brush their teeth at least twice daily to remove plaque. Every 6-12 months most people visit their dentist to have a thorough cleaning done and check for any changes or problems that may be occurring in their mouth.
What about your dog or cat? They likely see their veterinarian for their annual exam each year, and their mouth will be examined, but most dogs don’t say ‘aah’ when we ask. We also aren't as diligent in brushing or pet’s teeth as we are with brushing our own, but plaque and tartar build up in your dog and cat’s mouths too!
Within a few hours of brushing, plaque starts to form on your pet’s teeth. By brushing on a daily basis you can remove the plaque and prevent it from accumulating on your pet’s teeth. Without brushing, plaque can accumulate until it starts to form hard tartar. Once hard tartar accumulates it is more difficult to remove and may require your pet to have a professional dental cleaning under general anesthesia.
We want to be able to stop the plaque from developing into hard tartar on your pet’s teeth. There are different ways to do this, but the most effective will be daily brushing of your dog or cat’s teeth. The mechanical action of the brush on your pet’s teeth along with the added help of pet-safe toothpaste will break down the layer of plaque on your pet’s teeth. Without this plaque, there is no substrate for tartar to harden onto your pet's teeth.
See the diagram at the end of this post for tips on getting your pet to accept brushing.
Nothing will replace the benefits of daily brushing, but if brushing your pet’s teeth is a battle, talk to your veterinarian about dental diets and other alternatives that may better suit your pet.Kibble diets will be more beneficial than canned food diets, and there are veterinary diets that are made specifically for dental health. We can help you find the best dental home care for your cat or dog.
Dental disease starts when plaque – a thin layer of bacteria, accumulates on teeth. When allowed to stay on your pet’s teeth, this plaque can harden into tartar extending from the crown – the visible portion of the tooth, to the root – the portion of the tooth that hides beneath the gumline. When bacteria which resides in plaque and tartar, starts to live under the gum the gum becomes inflamed. This is called gingivitis and is noticeable when the gums become red and inflamed.
Dental disease can affect more than just your pet’s mouth. By harboring bacteria in your pet’s mouth it can cause infections in other organs including the heart, lungs, and kidneys. In order to keep your pet's whole body healthy, we need to keep their teeth and gums healthy!
Be sure to talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s dental health at their annual examination or sooner if you notice any of the signs of dental disease in your dog or cat.
Diesal is an almost 13 year old Brittany Spaniel. He came in a couple weeks ago to have his teeth cleaned and to have a couple problem teeth extracted.
Prior to his dental cleaning he had pre-anesthetic bloodwork run. As an older dog this was important to pick the right anesthetic protocol for him to keep him safe during surgery.
He was given a pre-medication injection for sedation before we placed his intravenous (IV) catheter for fluids. The IV fluids help to maintain his blood pressure during surgery, and gives direct access for any additional medications that may be needed.
Through his IV catheter, his induction medication was given. His IV catheter is also important incase any emergency or supportive medications need to be given during his procedure. The induction medication allows us to be able to place an endotracheal tube which is hooked up to oxygen and gas anesthetic for the duration of his dental cleaning. The endotracheal tube fits in his esophagus and helps prevent fluid from his mouth from being inhaled during his dental cleaning.
During his dental procedure his body temperature, heart rate, oxygen saturation, mucous membrane colour, and blood pressure were monitored and recorded by one of our talented veterinary technicians.
To start his dental cleaning, the tartar was cracked off of his teeth. A hand scaler and water scaler was used to remove tartar from the crowns of his teeth which are visible to us, as well as to clean beneath the gum line. Cleaning below the gum line is very important to keep teeth and their roots healthy, and can only be done under general anesthesia.
Diesal was already missing a few teeth from a previous dental procedure, but had a few more taken out at his cleaning that were unhealthy and bound to cause him problems in the future.
Then his teeth were polished with a paste that smooths the surface of his teeth and removes plaque. Plaque is the bacterial biofilm that is invisible to the naked eye, but if left it will turn into hard tartar that is visible. We will talk more about removing plaque to prevent dental disease later this month.
Diesal recovered well from his dental cleaning and extractions. Above are his before and after pictures. At almost 13 years old he has some permanent staining and wear and tear on his teeth, but his mouth is much more comfortable now that his teeth are free of plaque and tartar, and his sore teeth are gone.
Weekends, Holidays and After-hours we are available 24 hours daily 365 days a year at our location for local service by your veterinary team. Please call our office in case of emergency.
Please note - Weekend, Holiday and After-hour service is offered only to current clientele who have not transferred their files to another facility and whose animals are a patient of our practice that has been examined by one of our doctors in the past 24 months.
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Egan Fife Animal Hospital