Do you know what the number 1 disease in our pet dogs and cats is? Believe it or not, the #1 disease in our pets is dental disease!
What is dental disease?
It is a group of problems including tartar build-up, gum recession, bone loss and fractured teeth.
These problems can lead to pain, infections of the jaw bone, tooth loss and liver and kidney disease.
What can I do about dental disease?
Dental disease in our pets is very similar to the disease that we get. We have to disrupt the plaque that forms every 24 hours to prevent it from turning into tartar and we need to get regular professional cleanings.
The first line of defense is at-home care. Just like us, ideally, our pets would have their teeth brushed daily. If taught at a young age, most dogs and cats will accept this as just part of life. Even most adult pets can be taught to handle brushing. It may take a while, but it can be done.
For those who won’t allow brushing, the next best thing is CET Rinse or Gel. These are also once a day treatments. This would be like us using Listerine® daily but never brushing. Your mouth would feel better and it helps some, but it is not the same as brushing. The final choice for daily care is chews. There are all kinds of chews on the market for dogs and cats but not all are as great as they claim to be. We like CET brand. The cat chew has enzymes in it that help prevent the plaque from turning into tartar. The CET HEXA chews are coated with chlorhexidine, gold standard for killing bacteria in our mouths.
Our cats and dogs only need one of these a day to help control tartar, unlike some treats that require such a large number that your pet will probably become obese while trying to keep the teeth clean. In addition to the daily care, professional cleanings are a must. We, as people, brush and floss our teeth daily and the dentist still scrapes tartar off of our teeth every 6 months. General anesthesia is required to clean our pet’s teeth, but in most cases, the dental disease is much more harmful than the anesthesia. The importance of dental care cannot be emphasized enough. Too many veterinarians still do not acknowledge it as the silent (but often smelly) killer we know it to be.
Included in a “dental cleaning”:
Your pet’s doctor will listen to the heart, feel the belly, check pulses and gum color.
The blood work checks that your pet’s liver and kidneys are functioning properly so that they will filter the anesthesia drugs that will be used. The blood work also checks for anemia (red blood cell levels), infection (white blood cell levels) and clotting issues (platelets). The electrolyte and red blood cell levels confirm that your pet is not dehydrated.
***In pet’s over 8 years of age, we run a larger blood panel.
The intravenous (IV) catheter allows fluids to be administered during anesthesia to keep blood pressure normal protecting vital organs. The catheter also gives us a way to get emergency drugs into your pet quickly should they be necessary.
Your pet will be given several sedative drugs before actually anesthesia occurs. These drugs help stop pain, decrease anxiety, and decrease the amount of anesthesia your pet needs. Anesthesia is induced and an endotracheal tube is placed into your pet’s windpipe to deliver the anesthetic gas and oxygen. Routine teeth cleanings normally take about 45 minutes in a dog and 20 minutes in a cat. Therefore, the package includes 60 minutes for dogs and 30 for cats.
We use ultrasonic and hand scalers to clean your pet’s teeth. Your pet’s doctor will do a complete oral examination looking for broken, chipped or discolored teeth. They will also check pocket depth which is an indication of gum health. Normal pocket depth in dogs is 2-3 mm and 0.5-1mm in cats.
Cleaning the teeth creates microgrooves in the enamel of the teeth. Leaving these grooves would allow tartar to build up faster. Polishing creates a smooth surface that is difficult for tartar to adhere to. Since cat and dog teeth are very similar to ours but they have a thinner layer of enamel, fluoride helps to strengthen that layer.
- Placement of bonded sealant
- Placement of doxirobe in large pockets
- Removal of masses in the mouth