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All you need to know about looking after your pets teeth

Over a third of all our pets over three years of age have dental disease!! Imagine how our mouths would get if we didn’t brush/floss daily?

Our veterinary dentistry team enthusiastically tackle this real issue on a daily basis. We have built on the solid foundation left by Lisa Allen: Lisa’s family has a multi-generational dentistry history (including her brother Dr David Nelson) and established top rate protocols for all of our oral surgery.

Pets get the whole range of dental issue that humans can suffer from, although cavities have an entirely different cause (not sugar!) in our patients. The simple fact is, that without good regular dental care many problems develop which cause bad breath, toothache, dental abscesses, and ultimately painful tooth loss or fracture.

There is now a good body of evidence to suggest that advanced periodontal disease also seeds out infection through the body, contributing to liver, kidney and heart disease.

How do I know if my pet has dental disease?

There are many clinical signs of dental disease, some are very obvious, but many are subtle changes, especially early on in the process.

  • Bad breath
  • Red gums
  • Tartar / calculus
  • Reluctance to eat
  • Change in eating habits
  • Dental pain
  • Loose teeth
  • Broken teeth
  • Swollen gums, or face
  • Salivation

If you think your pet has any signs of these, please make an appointment for your complimentary dental health check today.

  • Free Dental Checks
  • Cats and Dogs
  • Why Has My Pet Got Dental Disease?
  • Spotting Dental Disease - Infection ?
  • Insurance and Dental Work

Free Dental Checks

Our team of qualified veterinary nurses will be happy to offer a free dental check-up if you have any concerns, and routinely offer free follow up consultations after all dental work has been done.

Click here to see a wonderfully illustrated guide to Canine Dentistry prepared for Pet Smile week: truly fascinating insight into this complex and very important area…why not have a read??!?

Cats and Dogs

Cats in particular can suffer terrible pain from their dental diseases, and can become completely anorexic, and there have even been recorded deaths due to this severe oral pain and associated starvation. Chronic Gingivostomatitis is especially difficult to manage.

It is a little recognised fact that dog and cat teeth are very much more firmly anchored in the jaw than are human teeth. You may hear of people having teeth knocked out, but a similar trauma to a dog or cat tooth will simply shatter the tooth leaving the painful root in place. This has implications for the time it takes us to extract teeth. Virtually all our extractions (except for very advanced periodontal disease with bone loss) are surgical extractions similar to having an impacted wisdom tooth removed. The reason this is worth noting, is that it explains why sometimes the costs associated with extractions can be very considerable.

We are of course happy to provided estimates for all our work, but accurate estimates for dentistry can be difficult to make. Some extractions are a nightmare in terms of the time taken to loosen roots and section teeth, so there is always a significant degree of latitude in an estimate for dentistry.

Why Has My Pet Got Dental Disease?

Dental disease in cats and dogs develops for various reasons. It is not as simple as what they eat. Some breeds are particularly prone to developing dental problems, e.g. Yorkshire Terrier and Greyhounds so there is likely a genetic predisposition in some dogs. Viral infections, e.g. calicivirus, are thought to be a primary cause of stomatitis and resorptive lesions cats. Misaligned teeth or retained baby teeth will also allow dental disease to form more quickly.

Many cases are simply the natural process of food and bacteria adhering to teeth. This builds up over a few days to form plaque. Bacteria interacts with plaque and minerals in the saliva to form the cement like tartar, or calculus. Calculus plus more bacteria lead to gum disease, periodontal disease and bone loss around the teeth.

This is why our dentists advise us to brush our teeth twice daily. If we brushed our dogs, or cats, teeth twice daily from an early age, we could prevent dental disease in our pets too! We understand this isn’t easy, so it is inevitable that most of our pets will develop dental disease by the time they are middle aged.

Does diet help? Any type of food that adheres less to the teeth will help reduce the build-up of plaque, and if the food can partly clean the teeth as it is eaten, this is even better. Dry food will do this more than wet food but unless it is a specially designed dental kibble, the effect is minimal. Specialised dental chews can help with the cleaning process if given daily. Hard chews like bones or antlers can be actually harmful as they are more likely to fracture the teeth, than clean plaque off.

Spotting Dental Disease - Infection ?

Heavy loads of tartar / calculus lead to periodontal disease. This is when the gums and tooth attachments are damaged due to infection of the tissues.

But these bacteria can spread around the whole body and through the blood stream, causing widespread organ problems. The kidneys, heart, lungs and liver are most commonly affected causing renal failure, endocarditis, pneumonia and hepatitis. These changes may be picked up on pre-anaesthetic blood tests, but more tests may be required to identify the severity of the problem.

Dealing with the periodontal disease will often allow these systemic problems to improve but it is better to prevent it happening in the first place.

Regular dental check-ups will identify dental disease early and allow appropriate treatment to begin before these problems can cause life threatening complications.

Insurance and Dental Work

Many insurance companies have held their premiums down by excluding dental work. Please check the small print of your policy. Remember that even those who continue to cover dental disease require that your annual health checks including vaccinations and dental checks are up to date, and that any noted veterinary advice has been followed promptly.

If your policy does not cover dental work, or if your pet is not insured, please be aware the Pet Health Club includes 10% discount on all dental work, which we hope will help.

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