Teeth are like icebergs! It’s what’s happening underneath the gum that mostly concerns us. That’s why dental x-rays are absolutely vital for full assessment of dental health.
Unlike lameness, sore eyes or itchy skin, dental pain often has no obvious symptoms. Dogs and cats will continue to eat well even with severe dental disease. It is AFTER a dental procedure that owners often comment on their pet’s improved demeanour – increased activity and play and generally being more sociable.
“I’m worried my dog is too old for an anaesthetic.”
All anaesthetics, for us or our pets, carry a small degree of risk. Thankfully, with modern monitoring equipment and skilled staff, that risk is minimal. Your elderly pet will be fully checked and bloods will be run prior to anaesthesia. Remember, age is not a disease and no animal should have to live with unnecessary pain. Here at Briarhill Vets, our mission is to make the mouths of Galway’s pets pain free.
What happens when my pet goes for a dental procedure?
- Your pet will receive a thorough clinical examination.
- Bloods will be run. This is especially important if your pet is older.
- Your animal will be placed under general anaesthesia and monitored closely using skilled staff and modern equipment.
- Your pet’s teeth will be probed and charted (this very important step gives vital information which is used in conjunction with the x-rays to assess the degree of disease around the tooth). The teeth will be cleaned.
- X-rays are taken of your pet’s teeth.
- We ring you to discuss our findings, recommendations and expected cost if requested.
- Extraction of painful teeth is performed. Your pet will have sutures in his/her mouth after extractions. Final cleaning and polishing. A protective barrier/sealant will be painted on to teeth if agreed with owner. Home on pain-relief and soft foot.
- Post-op check within 1 week.
- Ongoing home care and bi-annual dental checks!
- TLC and loads of it!
Home dental care options:
The primary goal of home care is to reduce the amount of bacterial plaque on the teeth.
Brushing pet’s teeth is by far the most effective means to mechanically remove the plaque on teeth. A soft baby’s (small dog/cat) or child’s (med/large dog) toothbrush can be used. It is the gold standard of home veterinary care. Unfortunately, not all dogs will agree with you on this and most cats won’t! Starting a brushing regime as a puppy, using positive reinforcement techniques can really help. Three days a week is considered the minimum to maintain good oral health or gingival inflammation will return to the same level as patients with no therapy.
The keys to compliance:
- Start early: young animals are more amenable to training.
- Go slow: start with just holding the mouth and then allow the pet to lick off of the tooth brush and finally start brushing slowly.
- Be consistent: make this a learned behaviour.
- Make it positive: using food, treats, or playtime as a reward will greatly increase the likelihood of acceptance.
- Consider the risks: handing animals near their mouth can potentially put you at risk of being bitten.
Chew based products can be effective if properly formulated, however, oral sprays, rinses, and water additives are generally insufficient, due to the tenacity with which plaque adheres to the teeth. Chew toys should not be too hard so as not to damage or fracture the teeth. A general rule of thumb is that you should be able to visibly indent a chew toy with your nails. Antlers, hooves, nylon bones which are currently popular but are too hard and risk causing tooth fractures.
Wet, dry,homemade diet and dental health:
Feeding a home prepared diet increases the probability of dental disease. There is a significant benefit in feeding commercial food compared to home prepared when at least part of the diet is good quality dry pet food for dogs and cats. For dry diets, the kibble size texture, and composition significantly affect the effect of the kibble on the teeth.
As a pet bites, standard kibble shatter and crumbles which provides little or no mechanical cleaning. Certain brands formulate the kibble so that it does not immediately shatter as the teeth bite it. These diets are preferable and advantageous. Studies have shown that feeding raw diets and bones may aid in cleansing teeth but there are currently no published studies that they are beneficial for periodontal disease. There is also the risk of fractured teeth and potentially the spread of zoonotic disease.