How does dental disease happen and progress?
Plaque builds up daily on the surface of the tooth. This calcifies to form a covering on the tooth called tartar. The plaque and tartar harbour harmful bacteria which make the gum inflamed, causing gingivitis.
Gingivitis is treatable, but if left untreated periodontal disease (disease of the attachment fibres and supporting bones) will occur and progress.
The gums start to recede and bacteria are able to attack the damaged gums causing infection. The surrounding support tissues and bone around the tooth will be lost and eventually the tooth will need to be extracted.
The high levels of harmful oral bacteria in periodontal disease can enter the circulatory system through the bleeding gums and inflamed tissues in the mouth and this can lead to further health problems by damaging other organs in the body.
What are the common signs of periodontal disease?
The common signs are listed below, however some pets will show no signs of disease at all.
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Red inflamed gums
- Brown staining on the teeth
- Pain, discomfort or changes in eating behaviour
- Excessive salivation or dribbling
- Bleeding from the gums or mouth
- Grinding or chattering of the teeth
- Lack of or reduction in self-grooming
- Pawing or rubbing at the face
What happens at a dental health check?
We recommend that your pet should have an annual health check with the veterinary surgeon (this can be combined with their health check-up at their vaccination). We also offer a free of charge six monthly dental check with a veterinary nurse.
At these checks we will discuss any symptoms you may have seen at home and examine your pets mouth for any signs of:
- Tartar build up
- Bleeding from the gums
- Lumps or swellings
- Fractured teeth
We will offer help and advice to ensure your pet has a happy and healthy smile. This may include recommending:
- Dental homecare. This can reduce the necessity for dental treatments. We are happy to talk through the product options and demonstrate their use to you.
- Dental treatments. These may be necessary to treat the disease present and prevent further progression.
What dental treatments are available at Animates?
- Dental Scale and Polish – scaling removes calculus and polishing removes plaque and some stains. The only way that this can be done effectively is under a general anaesthetic. This allows full assessment of all teeth and treatment under the gum line as well as the visible tooth. The area under the gum line is most important to stop the progression of periodontal disease.
- Tooth Extractions – When periodontal disease has progressed too far the only treatment option available to remove the pain is extraction. If this is necessary your pet will feel so much better without the painful tooth present. Other reasons a tooth could need extraction include fractures; deciduous (baby) teeth that have not fallen out naturally; caries (cavities); or in cats FORLs (feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions).
- Dental x-rays – available at our Thurlby practice. These are useful in some cases to allow better identification of dental pathology.
Please follow this link for information on our fixed price dental scale and polish offer.
I’ve heard some groomers offer anaesthesia-free dentals. Do you offer these or recommend these?
At Animates we do not offer anaesthesia-free dentals and we do not recommend these are performed.
The RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) has released a statement regarding anaesthesia-free dentals which can be read in full here: https://www.rcvs.org.uk/document-library/a-statement-on-anaesthesia-free-dental-procedures-for-cats-dogs/
The reasons that we do not recommend anaesthesia-free dental procedures are:
- they do not allow full oral examination to be performed and vitally important diagnoses may be missed or delayed
- they do not allow full and effective cleaning of the most important area under the gum line
- they may actually cause damage to the tissues surrounding the teeth
- they may cause discomfort, pain and/or distress to the animal
- they are likely to delay the patient receiving effective, proper oral care