Dental and Oral Health
Poor Oral Health and Dental Disease is one of the most common diagnoses we make in dogs, cats and rabbits.
Proper Veterinary Dentistry is misunderstood by many owners and is far more than just having a ’scale and polish’. From an owners perspective you may only have noticed halitosis (smelly breath) or seen some tartar on the teeth. The story is completely different from our side of the consulting room table. The commonest cause of death in humans 100 years ago was dental disease and the same probably applied to our pets. Plaque builds up on teeth, bacteria help it to form into tartar, the infection spreads under the gum-line and from infected gums and tooth structures we can get infection in the blood stream, continuously challenging the immune system and seeding into major organs.
The truth is that once your pet comes in for dental work, what we are really doing is a COMPLETE ORAL HEALTH ASSESSMENT AND TREATMENT. This includes a consultation to establish whether there has been any oral pain, problems eating and to perform a general health examination. We may also ask what, if anything, you do to look after your pet’s teeth.
In ‘hospital’ we will examine the facial and oral structures including the eyes, assess the calculus and plaque build up, examine each tooth, look at the level of periodontal disease present (gingivitis and so on). Under anaesthesia (essential for proper dental examination and work in animals) we will do a detailed oral examination including probing under the gum line and looking at all the soft tissues in the mouth as well as the teeth.
For many dental procedures XRAYS ARE ESSENTIAL. We have a modern digital imaging suite including dental radiography machines. This costs less than £20 per procedure but is essential if we need to examine the 70% of the tooth that lives below the gum, to ensure we have carried out any extractions properly, to investigate cats for RESORBTIVE LESIONS (which they get commonly and can be painful) and to investigate abnormal swellings. Nowadays most modern vets will routinely recommend dental radiography if they think it is warranted.
It is only then we get into treatment with disinfection, nerve blocks if required, removing large clods of tartar, Ultrasonic Scaling, cleaning under the gum-line, any surgery or extractions required, teeth polishing and dental record chart completion. We usually arrange post-operative checks and then FREE dental checks at intervals. It is important after dental treatment that you as the owner do your best to try to keep your pet’s mouth and teeth in tip-top condition.
Our Nurses run a FREE DENTAL CLUB (which, incidentally, is great to bring the kids to as well) where we can discuss dental hygiene measures, demonstrate tooth brushing, and discuss all the options open to you to try to ensure your pet doesn’t need to come in for surgical dentistry again. See the BEFORE and AFTER photographs below. Have you checked your pet’s mouth today?