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In an added effort to provide your pet with quality care, we offer pet dental services in our veterinary office. It is estimated that 80% of pets exhibit the beginning stages of periodontal disease by age 2-3 years – sometimes younger in small breed dogs!
Pets with good oral hygiene tend to live 2 to 4 years longer than pets who neglect dental care. Periodontal disease is preventable with early and regular dental care. When left untreated it can lead to cardiac disease, kidney infection, liver infection, or stroke. What’s worse is that dogs and cats are good at hiding mouth pain so often go through life suffering silently.
COHAT – Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment & Treatment
Regular dental exams and cleanings can help you avoid the costliness of involved dental procedures and can help prevent your pet from unnecessary suffering.
Oral Exam: During an office exam we can assess for the level of tartar and gingivitis, but general anesthesia is needed for a thorough oral exam. This involves a visual inspection of the outer and inner surface of each tooth as well as the occlusal surface. A periodontal probe is placed along the gumline around each tooth to assess for pockets of bone loss. Sometimes, oral tumors can be found during oral exam that may not have been visible on an awake exam. Tumors can be found on or under the tongue, on the palate, or in the tonsillar area.
Dental Radiographs (X-Rays): Our COHATs include full-mouth dental x-rays to find hidden disease. >60% of each tooth is below the gumline where we cannot see it with visual inspection. Being able to see the roots of a tooth and the surrounding bone enables us to detect abscesses, bone loss, resorptive lesion, cysts, tumors, fractured teeth and other potentially painful conditions.
Cleaning & Polishing: The surface of each tooth is cleaned with an ultrasonic scaler that cleans using the vibration of sound waves and water. The waves push the water creating tiny scrubbing bubbles that implode on tooth surfaces and kill microbes as they separate plaque from the tooth structure. Cleaning is done above and below the gumline. Sometimes hand scalers are used between teeth in areas that cannot be reached with the ultrasonic scaler. Once the teeth are thoroughly cleaned, a polisher is used to buff out the micro-abrasions on the tooth surface to smooth the crowns and reduce bacterial adhesion.
Other Treatments: If any teeth are noted to be diseased after oral exam and x-rays, the Doctor will call you to discuss additional treatments that are needed and discuss pricing for these services. Such services may include:
The most common reason that clients decline regular professional dental cleanings for their pets is their concern over the risks of anesthesia. There are risks to anesthesia, but serious complications are VERY RARE and multiple precautions are taken to mitigate this risk.
Frequency of COHATs
How often should a dog or cat get a professional dental cleaning? It depends on the pet. Genetics and your ability to provide dental home care both play a big role in how healthy your pets mouth will be. We humans brush our teeth twice a day and floss, but our dentists still clean our teeth with ultrasonic scalers twice a year. Some pets do fine with yearly cleanings, some need it more often and some need it less often. If your pet has visible tartar on their teeth and their gums are inflamed, they need a professional cleaning as soon as possible.
A Note About Anesthesia-Free Dental Cleanings
Anesthesia is the only way to be able to fully examine and treat all the disease that can occur in your pet’s mouth. It is unsafe for them and for their doctors to perform the appropriate procedures in an awake patient. Anesthesia-free dentals usually involve heavy physical restraint while their teeth are scraped. This is stressful for the pet as they do not understand what is happening, it is painful to scrape teeth with inflamed gums, and it can often result in injury to your pet.
Anesthesia-free tooth scraping does not treat your pet’s dental disease. It may remove the visible buildup on the enamel surface, but it can’t remove the disease-causing buildup that is under the gumline. It gives a false sense of improvement.
Please read the AVDC Position Statement on anesthesia-free dental cleanings. (READ MORE)
Dental Home Care
Home care for your dog can make a tremendous difference in their comfort and health. There are a wide variety of home care options from which to choose, but keep in mind that anything you can do to help prevent plaque and tarter accumulation will pay back in dividends. The more you can do at home, the less that will have to be done by a veterinarian.
Below is listed the common forms of home care that have been proven to be of benefit for dogs. Frequently the best approach is to combine several methods of control to achieve best results. All methods of home care share the goal of minimizing plaque (bacterial film) accumulation and preventing the mineralization of plaque to form calculus (tarter).
BRUSHING: Brushing your dog’s teeth is the single most effective means to curtail dental disease. Plaque is the root of many dental problems. This film is easily removed by simple mechanical disruption as the teeth are brushed. Daily brushing is required to improve dental health, while brushing every other day will help maintain the dental health in its current state. Almost all dogs will eventually accept brushing. The key to success is to be patient and gradual in your approach. A pet that resists brushing frequently does so because they have painful areas in their mouth that need to be addressed. Avoid human toothpastes as they contain substances which can be irritating and harmful if swallowed. Use pet-specific toothpaste which come in flavors that dogs enjoy. Specific veterinary toothbrushes are available which are very soft and angled to assist in brushing back teeth. However, a soft bristled human toothbrush can also be used.
ORAL RINSES & WATER ADDITIVES: These products provide antibacterial benefits lasting for several hours. Products by pet:: ESSENTIAL HealthyMouth became the first dental water additive to receive the prestigious VOHC(R) Seal of Acceptance for plaque control in dogs. We carry 4oz, 8oz, and 16oz size bottles of this product here, or you may order it online through www.healthymouth.com
CHEW PRODUCTS: Anything that helps increase chewing can be of benefit. To the surprise of many owners, feeding exclusively dry food is of little benefit. When choosing a diet, treat or chew, look for the VOHC-Approved Seal on the label. This seal means that the product has met the Standards for effectiveness in retarding plaque and tartar when used as directed by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC).
NOT RECOMMEND – cow hooves, pig ears, natural bones, or hard Nylabones. These are all harder than teeth, and are frequently associated with broken teeth. All chew toys require that you monitor your pet while they are using the product. Never leave a pet unattended while they are enjoying any chew toys.
About Dr. Graham – Veterinary Dental Practitioner
Dr. Jennifer Graham joined York Veterinary Hospital full-time in 2019 and reformed their dental services by introducing dental radiography and surgical extraction techniques. This strengthened her passion for dentistry and pain management, so she initiated self-study to advance her knowledge and experience in dentistry to help patients live without dental pain. She joined the International Veterinary Dental Institute soon after and earned her Veterinary Dental Practitioner Certification in November 2021.
What is a Veterinary Dental Practitioner?
Veterinary Dental Practitioners have undergone extensive study, training and examination through IVDI to attain an advanced level of knowledge and skill in veterinary dentistry. They are the most qualified veterinarians in general veterinary practice available to provide safe and proper oral care for dogs and cats. However, they are not board-certified specialists.