At Tri-City Animal & Bird Clinic our dental services include routine teeth cleaning and polishing, extractions, and minor oral surgery.
Why is dental disease such a big concern? Pets develop dental tartar and periodontal disease just like people do, but pets cannot brush their own teeth and they rarely show any symptoms other than bad breath. This means that dental disease in pets often becomes a very serious health issue before the owner even knows there is a problem.
Dental tartar is composed of food particles, minerals, and bacteria. In the early stages of accumulation, the material is soft (plaque), but it gradually hardens and adheres to the teeth to form yellowish black tartar. Continued accumulation causes gingivitis (infection and reddening of the gums) and periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection of the structures that cradle the teeth in their normal position. This infection causes teeth to loosen and eventually fall out. Additionally, the mouth becomes a dangerous source of infection as the bacteria gain access to the blood circulation and cause serious infection of the internal organs. The heart, kidneys, and liver are especially susceptible to infection originating from infected teeth and gums.
Proper evaluation and treatment of dental disease in dogs and cats requires that the pet receive anesthesia. The anesthesia will prevent your pet from experiencing any anxiety or pain from instruments probing the teeth and removing the tartar. It allows placement of a tube in the trachea to prevent inhalation of tartar particles. Finally, the anesthesia allows a comprehensive oral examination and any further treatment the pet may need to restore the oral cavity to good health.
The risk of anesthesia is negligible compared to the significant risk of infection and internal organ damage that occurs with untreated dental disease. At Tri-City Animal & Bird Clinic we have extensive experience with anesthesia and use the very best drugs and equipment to administer and monitor anesthesia. To decrease the anesthetic risk even further we also highly recommend (but do not require in certain cases) pre-anesthetic blood work and IV fluids during the procedure.
The first step in treating gingivitis and periodontal disease is to hand scale the large pieces of tartar off the teeth and probe the teeth for pockets of infection, damaged roots, fractured teeth, or other tooth problems. Our goal is always to retain any teeth that can be treated and returned to health, but if a tooth is so diseased or damaged that it will be a source of continued infection or pain, we may recommend a tooth extraction. Next the teeth are thoroughly cleaned using an ultrasonic dental cleaner to loosen and remove all tartar and debris. Next, the sparkling clean teeth are polished with a high speed polisher to smooth the tooth surfaces which slows down future tartar accumulation. Finally, a foaming fluoride treatment is applied to protect and strengthen the enamel of the teeth.