Cat Dentistry

Maintaining a cat’s dental health is extremely important and cats are susceptible to all of the same dental problems as dogs. There are other feline specific dental diseases that cat owners should be aware of including feline stomatitis and feline tooth resporption. In addition to home dental care, it is important for cats to have regular veterinary dental cleanings and exams to assure that their teeth and mouth remain healthy and without disease. Board certified vet dentists can provide the highest level of dental care for cats.

New Smiles for Shelter Pets!

Thanks to a group of veterinarians led by board-certified veterinary dental specialist Dr. Brook A. Niemiec, DVM, DAVDC of Veterinary Dental Specialties & Oral Surgery, dogs and cats from Best Friends Animal Society sanctuary in Utah received important dental care that not only relieves painful dental conditions, but also greatly improves an animals chance of being adopted. Continue reading “New Smiles for Shelter Pets!” »

The periodontal probe in the pocket which confirms the periodontal pocket

Periodontal Abscess in a Cat

While advanced periodontal disease is thought of as being a small breed dog condition, cats do develop periodontal disease and can have significant secondary infections from it. In addition, oral abscesses are generally due to endodontic (root canal) infection, but they can also result from deep periodontal infections. Continue reading “Periodontal Abscess in a Cat” »

Annual Veterinary Pet Dental Care

Australian Veterinary Community Takes a Stance Against Anesthesia Free Dentistry

Our board certified veterinary dentists are thrilled to hear that our veterinary colleagues in Australia have taken the right stance on the practice of anesthesia free dentistry, and it’s clear risks to a pet’s welfare. Continue reading “Australian Veterinary Community Takes a Stance Against Anesthesia Free Dentistry” »

Kitty’s Retained Tooth Root

Kitty, an eight year old cat, was examined by the veterinarian at the Department of Animal Services, who noted gum disease. They contacted Veterinary Dental Specialties and Oral Surgery for diagnosis and treatment so the kitty would have both a healthy mouth and improved opportunity for adoption. Continue reading “Kitty’s Retained Tooth Root” »

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.



Unusual Dental Condition in a Savannah Kitten

Dr. Visser with Prince Romeo

Dr. Visser with Prince Romeo

“Prince Romeo” is a one year old, 21 pound, Savannah kitty. He came to Dr. Visser at Arizona Veterinary Dental Specialists for a professional veterinary teeth cleaning and full mouth dental x-rays, under general anesthesia. Any pet dental cleaning should always be done under anesthesia, which allows for comprehensive exam, cleaning and radiographs (x-rays) to give a complete picture of what’s going on beneath the pet’s gumline.

Upon physical examination it was determined that Prince Romeo had Stage II periodontal disease.  Unfortunately the two upper molars had advanced periodontal disease and required extraction. It is fortunate we identified the periodontal disease early enough to treat and take steps to prevent future progression of the disease.

In addition, we identified a more unusual condition. Two of Prince Romeo’s maxillary upper fourth premolar teeth had three “denticles” (additional cusp tips) on the buccal aspect of the crowns.

Denticles on upper left premolar

Denticles on upper left premolar.

The surface area of the denticles on the left premolar tooth reduced and then a bondant was attached to protect the surface. The right premolar tooth required no treatment. Denticles  are not a normal finding and they are contributing to periodontal disease in this young cat. Both teeth will be monitored in six and in twelve months to determine if there is further treatment necessary.

Surface area reduced and bondant attached to protect the surface.

Surface area reduced and bondant attached to protect the surface.

Get the Facts about Anesthesia Free Pet Dental Cleanings

The recent trend of groomers, pet stores and sometimes vets, offering what are referred to as “anesthesia free pet dental cleanings” is of great concern to the veterinary community. These seemingly cheap procedures, which veterinary dentists refer to as “Non-Anesthetic Dentals (NAD)”, are quite appealing to the average pet owner who think they sound like a good option.

The truth is, anesthesia free pet dental cleanings are of no benefit to a dog or cat’s oral health, and in fact result in even higher risk of a pet developing painful periodontal disease under the gum line, where an owner will not recognize a problem until it is too late. Essentially these providers prey on well meaning pet owners who think their pet is getting a dental cleaning, when in reality, they are merely scaling (scraping) the visible portion of the animal’s teeth.

With the increase of the anesthesia free dental cleanings, veterinary dentists are now seeing an increase of animals in our practices, after a number of years of these cleanings, who now have severe periodontal disease requiring extensive and expensive treatment.  Because of this trend, the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) is working to educate the public about  these procedures and help them better understand their pet’s oral health needs. They have recently launched a new website with excellent information and facts to help pet owners make an informed choice about their pet’s dental health and annual dental cleanings. We encourage you to visit this site to learn more about anesthesia free dental cleanings.

Anesthesia Free Dental Cleanings Know the Facts


Treating Cat’s Cleft Palate

Morty - Cat who had a cleft palateMorty is a six year old male domestic short hair cat who showed up at his owner’s door four years ago as a stray.  Because Morty was a stray, the owner does not have any information of health concerns in the past.  When his Morty’s new owner adopted him, she noticed that he would sneeze a lot and food was getting stuck in the roof of his mouth.  His regular veterinarian diagnosed a defect in his hard palate and referred him to Eastside Veterinary Dentistry for surgical correction.

Examination demonstrated that there was a cleft palate on the left side of the hard palate.  There was food packed through the opening into the nasal passage.  Over the last two years the owner has been dealing with this by trying to irrigate the food out of the cleft in his hard palate.  Understandably this was not a procedure that Morty enjoyed!

Below are details and photos of how Dr. Matson treated Morty’s cleft palate:

  1. The first step of the procedure was to extract all the teeth on the left side where the cleft was present.  This allows for the tissue to heal in preparation for closure of the cleft.
  2. 5 weeks after the extractions were done, Morty returned for closure of the defect. (Picture 1)
  3. The gingiva has healed and is ready for surgery. The mucosa from the inner lip was elevated and brought over to cover the defect. (Picture 2)
  4. The tissue was sutured in place and an Elizabethan collar placed to keep Morty from rubbing his face. (Picture 3)
  5. At two week recheck, the surgery site has healed with complete closure of the cleft.  (Picture 4)

Now Morty is able to eat without food building up in his nose!