Orthodontic Problems in Pets are Often Quite Painful

Orthodontic problems are often quite painful, even though pets rarely any outward signs of an issue. However, it is very common for pet patients to be suffering from the trauma crated by the teeth hitting into the sensitive gums or palate. This traumatic damage can become quite significant, creating local infection. In addition, they can kill the teeth in the area due to the chronic percussion. Finally, in some cases the teeth can penetrate into the nasal cavity possibly leading to a severe nasal infection.  Continue reading “Orthodontic Problems in Pets are Often Quite Painful” »

Close up lesions

The case of hidden tooth resorption…

A professional veterinary dental cleaning is far more than a simple “scale and polish”.  While this is a key purpose for the procedure, there is another aspect which is as important (and actually in some cases MORE important) than the cleaning itself.  That is the oral examination and dental radiographs under anesthesia, almost always the only way painful problems can be identified in pets mouths. Continue reading “The case of hidden tooth resorption…” »

Dog Cat Pet Dental Health

New Year Pet Dental Health Resolutions

Dog Cat Pet Dental HealthIt’s that time of year again, why not set some resolutions that will benefit your furry family members? Your pet’s dental health is nothing to ignore and plays a significant role in their overall health and wellness. So, let us help you make some positive resolutions that will keep your pet’s smile healthy and ultimately save you money in the cost of treating preventable dental disease.

1. Make your pet’s annual veterinary dental cleaning appointment

Periodontal disease is the number one health condition in pets, but with proper care and veterinary cleanings, it’s entirely preventable. A comprehensive veterinary dental cleaning under anesthesia allows for a thorough exam, scaling and polishing of your pet’s teeth along with the opportunity to identify and treat early stages of periodontal disease.

It is also vital to understand that an “anesthesia-free pet teeth cleaning” is NOT a cleaning nor does it provide any benefit to your pet’s dental health. These services often offered by groomers or pet stores only serve to give a pet owner a false sense of confidence that their pet’s teeth are clean, while periodontal disease lurks and continues to do damage beneath the gumline. See a case demonstrating the consequences of anesthesia free dentals.

2. Confirm your veterinarian uses vet dental radiographs as part of the cleaning.

A veterinary dental cleaning should always include radiographs. Veterinary dental radiographs are the only way to get a complete picture of a pet’s mouth, most importantly what’s going on beneath the gumline. Even the most expert eye is unable to identify dental disease beneath the gumline. So, when you make your pet’s veterinary dental cleaning appointment, ask your veterinarian if their protocol includes radiographs of your pet’s mouth.

3. Start brushing your pet’s teeth daily at home.

Imagine not brushing your teeth every day, then imagine if you didn’t brush your teeth for months… Your pet has the same bacteria in their mouth as you, and left without any brushing just leaves that bacteria in their mouth to sit and develop into periodontal disease. Daily brushing of your pets teeth is the best step you can take to keep periodontal disease at bay in between their annual veterinary dental cleaning. Watch the video below for a guide to brushing your pet’s teeth.

4. Start the habit of looking in your pet’s mouth weekly for signs of anything abnormal.

You are an excellent person to help identify any problems in your pet’s mouth. A weekly visual check of your pet’s teeth, gums and oral cavity offers the opportunity to catch any signs of problems such as chipped or broken teeth, tumors or anything unusual. Our pet’s can’t tell us when they are in pain, so you can be your pet’s advocate in noticing signs of problems early, before they cause further pain and problems.

5. Don’t give bones, antlers or other hard items to your pet to chew on.

Pet broken teeth are painful for your pet and treatment can require root canal or extraction. One very simple way to prevent pet broken teeth is not providing your pet chew items that are likely to cause damage. Bones, antlers, nylon toys or other hard materials are hard and will chip and break a pet’s teeth. The best rule of thumb is if you can’t bend it or it has no give when pushing your fingernail into it, it’s too hard. Need proof, see a case involving damage from antlers given as chew toys.

Dog with periodontal disease

Periodontal Disease in Dogs & Cats

Periodontal disease is a condition that can affect all ages of dogs and cats. It is estimated that up to 80 percent of dogs and cats have some degree of periodontal disease. However, the older the animal is the more severe the periodontal disease is likely to be.

To add to the already high risk of periodontal disease in pets, anesthesia free dental cleanings are being touted as a way to clean a dog or cat’s teeth without using anesthesia.  The problem with this approach is that it is impossible to properly assess and clean all aspects of the teeth, especially on the inside of teeth and below the gum line.  This does not allow the disease to be properly diagnosed and treated.

Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Dog with periodontal disease

The roots of the dog’s teeth are exposed and are mobile.

A 13 year old Labrador retriever mix presented at Eastside Veterinary Dentistry in Washington for an oral evaluation.  This picture is of the upper (maxillary) incisor teeth.  The roots are exposed and the teeth are mobile.  Due to the extent of periodontal disease, this patient required extraction of 50 percent of his teeth.  The veterinarian that initially examined this dog recommended that an anesthesia free dental cleaning be performed.  Although this is an extreme example, it highlights the problem with acceptance of anesthesia free dental cleanings that are being promoted among the veterinarian and pet owning community.


Periodontal Disease in Cats

Perio cat June 23 2014bPeriodontal disease in cats can occur at a young age with severe manifestations. This three year old cat had never had a dental cleaning and not had any at home tooth brushing.

In general, a three year old cat, even without any dental care is unlikely to have this severe of a presentation.  However, sometimes it is not possible to determine which cat will develop severe periodontal disease and which will not.  As a result, it is important to acclimatize our cats to tooth brushing as a kitten so that this type of disease may be prevented. Unfortunately for this patient, all of his teeth were extracted.

Dental recommendations for cats are dogs are to brush the teeth daily and have yearly veterinary dental cleanings performed with anesthesia, complete oral examination and obtaining full mouth veterinary dental radiographs.

If it’s time for your pet’s cleaning or you’re concerned about a dental condition or disease, find a veterinary dentist near you.

Pet Holiday Safety Tips

Preventing Pet Oral Injuries During the Holidays

Pet Holiday Safety TipsDecorations, gifts and treats all help make the holidays fun and festive for us, but for families with pets, it’s also important to pay extra attention to avoid pet illness or injury. Our Board Certified Veterinary Dentists from across the country offer insights on top holiday pet hazards and what pet owners can do to help protect their pet’s dental health during the holiday season and throughout the year.

Decorations & Pet Oral Burns

All of the bright Christmas lights, also mean extra electrical cords in the house that you don’t want to spark your pet’s interest. Pay close attention your pets when there are cords that may be accessible to a dog or cat, especially one who’s prone to chewing. If you leave your pets unattended, always be certain to unplug any electrical cords they might have access to while you’re away. Dr. Dale Kressin, Wisconsin Vet Dentist, has a number of cases where a pet has tongue burns and lesions from chewing on an electrical cord.

Other burn hazards for pets include candles or incense, which can cause chemical burn in a pet’s mouth. More about pet oral burns.

New Toys, Bones & Tooth Fractures

Many of the chew toys and bones that fill the aisles of pet stores are not really as pet friendly as they might look. Bones and hard chew toys are often the culprit when it comes to a broken pet tooth. When you’re choosing items to fill Fido and Tabby’s stockings, choose items they can enjoy and that won’t mean a trip to the vet dentist. A good rule of thumb is if you can’t bend it or make a dent in it with your thumbnail, it’s too hard and could break their teeth. Also beware of giving any bones from holiday meals to pets, not only can they break teeth, but when swallowed can cause internal injury.

New toys should also always be given under parental supervision. A pet’s excitement to chew apart their gift, can sometimes result in swallowing pieces of the toy. A great choice is Kong toys. They are durable and very unlikely to cause oral injury.

Poisons & Illness

There are a variety of pet poisons that can cause mild to serious illness, not only during the holidays, but all year long. Holiday plants should be kept out of pet’s reach. Most often they don’t cause serious illness, but diarrhea and vomiting can certainly ruin a party. You should also be sure to keep a close eye on pets, especially when you have guests who may not be used to pets being around. Handbags and other items left in pet’s reach can contain medications, gum and other things you don’t want a pet to ingest.

Find more information about pet poisons and what to do in a pet poison emergency.

Happy Holidays!

Help your pets enjoy the holidays by keeping them safe. Always remember our festivities can sometimes be scary or upsetting to a pet who’s not used to all of the chaos. Be sure to keep an eye on them as guests enter, you don’t want them to run out into the street or knock over Grandma.

If your pet has a dental injury, find a veterinary dentist near you for immediate evaluation and treatment.