Many pet owners don’t realize the importance of dental care for their pets. When a pet’s mouth is not cared for, they can develop painful periodontal disease. During your regular visit, your veterinarian will examine the teeth and mouth for signs of dental disease. If they detect concerning symptoms, they may recommend follow-up dental work.
Modern veterinary medicine recognizes that dentistry is a needed, but often neglected, component of pet care. At Concord Veterinary Hospital, we prioritize dental care because we understand that a healthy mouth is an essential component of total health. We cannot stress this enough! That’s why we recently upgraded our facility with state-of-the-art dental equipment and dental radiology, along with staff specialized dental education and training, to enhance the quality and safety of our dental examinations, cleanings, and procedures.
Cornelia Porter, DVM, is on staff for advanced and referral veterinary dental and oral surgery needs.
Why Is Dental Care So Important?
Just like us, our animal companions need diligent dental care to maintain a healthy mouth. When plaque is allowed to build up and harden on the teeth, it causes inflammation of the gums and breakdown of tissue and bone. This can make it painful for your pet to eat, and even eventually cause tooth loss.
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is extremely common in pets, with 80% of dogs and 70% of cats affected by age three. This is because most pets don’t have their teeth brushed every day, allowing plaque-forming bacteria to multiply. Fortunately, you can watch for signs of gum disease at home. If you notice any of the signs below, please call your veterinarian – it may be time for a professional dental cleaning.
- Bad breath (halitosis) – doggie breath is actually the first sign of gum disease
- Yellow to brown crust of plaque on the teeth
- Red, swollen gums
- Pain or bleeding during eating or refusal to eat
- Blood in food bowls or on chew toys
- Loose or missing teeth
Professional Cleanings and Extraction
We recommend dental cleanings at least once a year to prevent the spread of harmful plaque-forming bacteria and support oral health. A professional cleaning must be done under anesthesia. This is because most gum disease lurks underneath the gumline. It is impossible to clean this area on an awake dog or cat, so performing the procedure under anesthesia allows your veterinarian to reach the root of the problem.
A comprehensive cleaning also includes scaling and polishing of the crown, which is the visible part of your pet’s tooth. Scaling removes plaque and tartar on the crown and polishing creates a smooth surface that deters plaque and bacteria from adhering to the tooth.
In some cases, dental extractions are necessary. Our veterinarians use x-ray to evaluate the teeth before extraction so they can best avoid patient injury. Dr. Cornelia Porter performs tooth extractions and advanced dental and oral surgery.
At-Home Dental Care: The Best Prevention
A professional cleaning removes harmful plaque and tartar, but the best way to prevent plaque build-up before it can wear down your pet’s gums is to brush your pet’s teeth at home. Just as we brush our teeth everyday, our animal companions can benefit from regular toothbrushing. Even if you cannot brush your pet’s teeth every day, brushing once or twice a week makes a big difference! Make sure to use a toothbrush and toothpaste designed for pets. We can also recommend dental diets and treats to help break down plaque while your pet chews.