WHAT IS PERIODONTAL DISEASE?
Dental disease is a condition characterised by inflammation of the gingiva around the teeth. When bacterial plaque and tartar build-up on the surface of the teeth, swelling occurs. If this bacteria is not eliminated on a regular basis, it will cause infection, pain, and tooth loss. Worse, germs that come from tartar buildup can spread through the body, causing problems in the heart, liver, and kidneys, as well as other parts of the body.
Adult pets should go to the vet at least once a year for a checkup. During this visit, the doctor might look for signs of dental disease and recommend dental cleanings every six months to every other year, depending on your pet’s condition.
SYMPTOMS OF DENTAL DISEASE
Periodontal disease symptoms may be minor initially, with just slightly coloured gums being visible. When the condition worsens, the following are some of the signs of this disease:
- Bad breath (halitosis). Pet parents generally bring this up during visits
- Having trouble eating and picking up food
- Whistling and making other noises while eating
- Teeth that have become loose or are missing
- With or without bleeding, red and irritated gums
- Chewing using only one side of the mouth
- Bumps in the throat
- Bloody food/water bowls or bloody toys
- Drooling with blood-tinged saliva
- Contact avoidance and other behavioural changes
- Sneezing or nasal discharge
It’s worth mentioning that most pets have some form of dental disease by the age of three, even if they don’t always show signs of discomfort. Therefore, regular dental care is critical.
A dental prophylaxis or dental surgery session is comparable to a human dental cleaning session. If a veterinarian detects signs of dental disease during a physical exam, they may recommend a full dental prophylaxis to treat the problem and restore oral health.
Unlike humans, pets require general anaesthesia to fully and securely clean, scale, and polish their teeth. Because of this, we schedule this procedure for a separate day; when the pet can be closely monitored before, during, and after the surgery.
Anesthesia allows the veterinarian to examine the whole oral cavity, take x-rays, and thoroughly clean the pet’s teeth above and below the gumline while the pet is completely motionless. During the surgery, skilled medical people keep an eye on your pet’s vital signs to make sure they stay safe while they are under anesthesia.
The process might take anywhere from 1 to 4 hours. This is determined by the pet’s condition, the number of x-rays necessary, and whether or not teeth extractions are required. Preparing the pet for dental surgery (e.g., pre-anesthetic bloodwork, sedation, IV fluids) and post-dental patient monitoring are similarly time-consuming. That is, you must drop off your pet in the morning and retrieve them in the late afternoon or early evening for professional dental surgery.
GETTING YOUR PET READY FOR A DENTAL CLEANING
We recommend that the pet not eat the night before the dental procedure. Avoid feeding your pet for 12 hours before surgery to lessen the risk of vomiting while under anesthesia. The medical team will check the fasting requirements with you a few days before the procedure.
DENTAL CLEANING AFTER-CARE
Your pet’s mouth may be somewhat sore for a few days after the treatment, but they should still be hungry and able to eat. Your pet’s gums may bleed a little after any extractions. At the two-week mark, we usually offer a free post-dental checkup with one of our RVTs to make sure the mouth has healed well.
We strongly advise you to consult with your veterinarian about your specific condition as well as your pet’s post-operative care.
Here are some general suggestions for post-op home care:
- Because your pet will be recuperating from anesthesia, feed them a small meal on their first day home.
- If extractions are performed, you can feed your pet soft food for two weeks after the procedure.
- We may recommend pain relievers for a few days after tooth extractions.
DENTAL CARE AT HOME
The best course of action is to begin or continue at-home oral care, whether by toothbrushing or other means. When teeth are removed, you should wait until the medical staff says that the teeth are completely healed at the two-week mark before you start brushing.
If you are proactive, your pet’s oral health will be better, and they will also be less likely to get heart disease, liver disease, or kidney failure.
To summarize, prevention is the best course of action to avoid periodontal disease. Also, for an optimal outcome, you want to focus on both home care and professional dental cleanings. Brushing your pet’s teeth at least a few times a week, as well as other techniques such as dental treats and chew toys, plus dental checks and cleanings will help your pet live a longer and healthier life.
This article provides a summary view of some aspects you need to know about your pet’s dental care and professional dental cleanings. We recommend you take the time to talk in detail with one of our licensed veterinarians. They will provide the best suggestions and strategies for your pet. For an appointment please contact us at (416) 351-1212.