Pet Dental Care
Your pet’s dental health is important, because good oral health is part of their overall wellness
Because we care about every aspect of your pet’s health, Hillside Veterinary Clinic in Newmarket provides dentistry services for pets including oral examinations, dental x-rays, cleaning, and extractions.
Even though people brush their teeth daily, they still need to visit the dentist regularly for cleaning and checkups. The same is true for dogs and cats. Our pets are living longer, and we need to make sure their mouths stay healthy. We want you to enjoy your puppy and kitten kisses!
Our first assessment is a look at your pet’s teeth and gums to determine if there is significant gum inflammation, obvious broken teeth and/or loose teeth, large amounts of tartar accumulation, oral tumours, etc.
What we can’t always see is whether there is a problem underneath the gumline, like peroidontal disease, or a tooth root abscess. This requires using a probe and sometimes xrays of the teeth and jaw, which our patients do not understand and will not sit still for, so it has to be done under anesthesia to be done safely. Often, especially with older pets, once we do this second exam, we find a lot of problems that we simply can't see with the naked eye.
Many owners are surprised at how much better their pet feels after a dental procedure. Many say their dog acts just like a puppy again! This means their pet was unknowingly suffering a lot of oral pain before we were able to help.
The following are included in our dental procedures:
- Full Mouth Assessment
- Dental Scale and Polish (above and below the gum line)
- Dental Extractions When Necessary
- Oral nerve blocks (freezing) and pain management
- Home Care Products & Education (brushing techniques, dental diets, appropriate oral care treats and products, etc.)
Dental Prophylaxis (Cleaning)
Just as a hygienist cleans our teeth, we do the same for our patients. We clean all teeth above and below the gum line to remove the accumulated tartar and then polish the teeth surfaces, and apply a fluoride paste. Your pets' breath will smell so much better afterwards!
These allow us to assess the internal tooth structure and surrounding bone to determine whether there are abscesses, bone loss, etc. and help us determine whether extraction is necessary.
If there is too much damage done to a tooth or the surrounding tissues, we often have to extract teeth. This is usually due to broken tooth, abscesses, or periodontal disease which causes loose teeth and painful inflamed gums. In cats, tooth resorption eats away at the tooth and the roots, causing holes in the tooth that can be painful or become infected.
Tooth extraction is considered oral surgery; it's like people having wisdom teeth removed. Most people need to visit an oral surgeon for this, but our veterinarians are trained in extracting teeth. There are some cases where a damaged tooth can be salvaged (such as a root canal for a broken canine tooth), and we can refer you to a board-certified dentist specialist if you wish.
In dogs, the roots of the teeth are much longer than in humans, so they are a little harder to remove. Prior to extractions, we administer local nerve blocks and send our patients home with medications to control pain.
Oral assessment and treatment are always recommended as part of your pets overall care.
The picture below illustrates a slab fracture of the canine carnasial (4th premolar) tooth. This type of injury can occur from your pet chewing on hard objects such as rawhide bones, rocks etc. and can cause your pet a lot of discomfort, and potentially lead to infection most commonly know as a tooth root abscess. This tooth requires extraction. This tooth has 3 roots which must be extracted individually. A tooth like this can take up to 30 minutes to extract!
Dental Home Care Regime
Daily brushing is the foundation of proper oral care. You can make a real difference in your pet's oral health and overall wellness. Visit the following link for 4 easy tips on how to be successful with brushing your pet's teeth.
A soft-bristled baby tooth brush works well, or even rubbing your pets' teeth and gums with gauze can remove plaque bacteria and reduce the accumulation of tartar.
Oral Health pet food is an easy and effective way to maintain your pet's oral health between dental cleanings. Most kibbles crumble and don't do anything to clean the teeth. Our dental diets are specially designed to scrape the teeth and act like a tooth brush every time your pet eats. It's a food and a brush in one!
The Veterinary Oral Health Council is a board that validates products that have been tested and can prove that they reduce plaque and/or tartar. Look for the VOHC seal, or visit their website to see a list of authorized products. There are many products on the market, most of which have not been tested to prove that they work. With a VOHC-approved product, you know the product is a good one.
Regular use of these products will reduce the severity of periodontal disease in your pet.
Virbac CET® VeggieDent® Chews for Dogs, all sizes.
Tartar Shield Chews and water tablets
Bones are NOT recommended
Bones, hooves, and antlers are so hard, they can break a dog's teeth (like the dog with the broken tooth above). The same is true for hard plastic toys, rocks, pressed (translucent) rawhide, or ice cubes. If you don't want to hit yourself in the knee with it, don't give it to your dog!
Some groomers or companies try to advertize tooth cleaning without anesthesia. While this may seem attractive and safer for your pet, in reality this is at best a cosmetic fix that has no medical benefit for your pet. Most dental disease happens deep underneath the gumline, which cannot be fixed by simply scraping the tartar off the visible portions of the teeth. These procedures actually place your pet more at risk, because of the risk of pain and trauma by using instruments in the mouth of an awake pet, who probably has a sore mouth to begin with. But more importantly, it tricks owners into a false sense of security that they are doing a good thing. While the teeth look clean, the bones and roots are being eaten away under the surface, making things worse. The reason veterinarians do not provide this service is because it is considered below acceptable medical standards (malpractice).
The College of Veterinarians position statement on dentistry