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Why is dentistry important for my pet?

What we can offer

We are able to provide an extensive dentistry service from a scale and polish of your pet’s teeth to complex surgical extractions. Pets, just like us are susceptible to having dental disease. Plaque and tartar form on their teeth, leading to an accumulation of hard calcified deposits on the surface of the teeth. This then causes inflammation of the gum (gingivitis) and later inflammation and destruction of the membrane surrounding the roots of the teeth (periodontal disease). In the early stages of periodontal disease only the gum is affected but, if left untreated, it will progress to involve other supporting structures of the tooth including the bony socket and ligament attaching the tooth to the bone. Bacteria from the affected gums can also enter the blood stream through the gums and can cause heart, liver and kidney disease. Having a clean, healthy mouth is important in helping ensure a longer and healthier life for your pet.

Is dental treatment really necessary?

Dental disease and pain is not always immediately evident to pet owners. Even the most perceptive owners are unlikely to pick up that an animal is suffering from chronic low grade dental disease. A dental examination by a vet is the best way to examine your pet's mouth. Prevention is the best strategy and by far the best way to prevent dental disease is to brush your pet’s teeth. Once tartar has formed it cannot be removed by brushing the teeth. A scale and polish at the clinic is required to prevent the loss of teeth and other long-term health problems.

What are the signs of oral and dental disease in pets?

  • Bad breath,
  • Loose teeth or teeth that are discoloured or covered in tartar
  • Shying away from you when you touch the mouth area
  • Drooling or dropping food from the mouth
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Loss of appetite or loss of weight *(This combination can result from other diseases too, and early veterinary examination is important)*

Why is a general anaesthetic needed to clean my pet's teeth?

A person can be asked sit still and open wide but unfortunately it is not the case for pets. To ensure that we can do a professional job and minimise the pain and anxiety they experience, we need to give them a general anaesthetic. Fear of general anaesthesia is an understandable concern voiced by many owners when a dental procedure is recommended. However, the risk of chronic oral infection, is far greater than the risk of an anaesthetic complication. Appropriately administered general anaesthesia entails a very low risk for the patient. This is minimised by a combination of pre-anaesthetic assessment of the patient (including blood tests or other tests as indicated), use of modern anaesthetic agents and local anaesthetic blocks (which minimize the depth of general anaesthesia required), plus monitoring by a nurse. Many patients are awake and standing within 15-20 minutes of completion of the procedure and go home the same day. A complete dental cleaning is an intricate process that includes supra- and subgingival scaling (i.e., cleaning above and below the gum line), polishing, oral examination (including periodontal probing), charting and possible extractions. Additionally, dental radiographs are sometimes required to aid proper dental care and cannot be taken without general anaesthesia.

How much this procedure will cost?

Once the scale and tartar is removed, your pet’s mouth can to be thoroughly assessed to determine exactly whether extractions are necessary and how many. In some cases, before we make this decision, dental X-rays may be needed. Dental extractions in animals take longer than it does in people. Animal teeth are comparatively larger and more complex to remove than human teeth. Human teeth generally have single short roots and are easy to remove. However, animals' teeth are mostly multi-rooted. This means that they need oral surgery to expose the roots, divide the tooth, depending on the number of roots they have, and extract each segment individually. As a result this takes much longer to extract them correctly. It can take between 15-30 minutes to remove a single tooth. Consequently it is difficult to accurately estimate what is going to be done, and the associated costs, until the animal has had its mouth thoroughly and carefully examined.

What will happen to my pet on the day of the dental?

Your pet will first be given a thorough clinical examination. You also have the option of having pre-op blood tests taken, either on the day or up to two weeks prior. This is highly recommended and acts as a screen for underlying illnesses that we may not be aware of or be able to pick up with the clinical examination, such as early kidney or liver disease. This is especially important in older pets. These test results are then analysed by the vet in order to decide on what sedative pre-medication is given. This has a calming effect and reduces the amount of anaesthetic necessary which helps minimise the risks of general anaesthesia. A cannula is then placed into the vein in one of the front legs through which the anaesthetic is injected. A breathing tube is then placed into the airway and connected to a oxygen supply and a gaseous anaesthetic machine. The progress of the anaesthetic is constantly monitored and recorded by a nurse. Your pet’s mouth is then surveyed and charted. The amount of tartar and inflammation of the gums is noted. The teeth are then scaled with the ultrasonic scaler. Once cleaned, the teeth can be probed to determine which, if any, need to be removed. If teeth need to be removed, they may be sectioned into pieces, as they usually have two or three roots. In some instances the gum will need to be incised to facilitate exposure and then sutured together once the extractions have been completed. The rest of the teeth are polished with a high-speed polisher. In order to keep your pet’s teeth healthy, it is advisable to brush them daily with special pet toothpaste and toothbrushes.