January 19, 2017
Did you know that February is the National Pet Dental Month?
If you are the owner of a cat or dog that is seen for regular care such as vaccinations and treatments for the prevention of seasonal parasites (intestinal worms, heartworm, fleas, ticks), why not also ask for a dental evaluation for your beloved pet? Perhaps you have recently noticed some tartar accumulation or particularly bad breath. If you recognize these early signs of tooth decay in your pet, it is best not to wait. Accumulated tartar can cause gingivitis and eventually lead to the loss of teeth. Consider consulting your veterinarian as soon as possible for dental recommendations.
Dental tartar and plaque: not simply a cosmetic issue
Dental plaque contains salivary proteins, food particles and bacteria that can transform into tartar in 24-48 hours, after which a curettage is required to remove it. Initially, accumulated plaque and tartar cause the teeth to appear stained or yellow. With time, the gums become red and inflamed (gingivitis). As further accumulation occurs, the gums begin to recede, causing the destruction of the periodontal ligament, the ligament that hold the teeth in place. Further damage to the gums can cause a very unhealthy and painful condition of the mouth, including loose teeth, bone loss in the jaw, and dental abscesses.
Prevention of tooth decay at home and by the veterinarian
Measures can be taken to help prevent periodontal disease in your pet.
At the top of the list and the most efficient way to prevent the accumulation of tartar on the teeth is to brush them regularly with a toothbrush and toothpaste specifically designed for animals. The reality with some pets is that this is easier said than done. Dogs and cats are not always cooperative and finding the time in a busy schedule to clean their teeth can sometimes be a challenge. For these reasons, the veterinarian may suggest alternatives to brushing, what are known as ‘’passive’’ methods of prevention.
Dental diets or tartar prevention diets are available in veterinary clinics and are extremely efficient. The kibbles of these foods are particularly hard and large, which causes the tartar to be scraped from the teeth mechanically with every bite. This may not be a good alternative if, despite the large pieces, your pet tends to swallow his food whole.
Other suggestions for regular dental hygiene include liquids or gels that may be added to the drinking water that prevent tartar accumulation, dental chews that incorporate enzymes to break down tartar, chew toys, etc. Pet owners who are particularly motivated may use all of the above suggestions or a combination of the ones that work best for them and have the best results. For example, a dental diet in combination with regular brushing and an occasional dental chew work very well to help prevent dental disease.
Regardless of all these preventive measures listed above, cats and dogs require dental cleaning and polishing of the teeth, just like their human companions. A dental prophylaxis performed by a veterinarian may be the best defence in preventing the advanced stages of periodontal disease which too often result in dental extractions.
Dr. Pierre Gagnon, a veterinarian experienced in dental care
Dr. Pierre Gagnon has a passion for dental health in felines and canines. Having regularly attended conferences in advanced dental care and with his years of experience, Dr. Gagnon has acquired exceptional skill in dental techniques. When one of his patients is no longer responding to at-home prevention and requires intervention, Dr. Gagnon will recommend dental surgery with the aim of restoring a level of comfort to the pet which he knows is essential to his/her quality of life. With the assistance of digital dental X-Ray, Dr. Gagnon is able to diagnose particular dental problems and pathologies otherwise missed or overlooked in a mouth that may appear normal. As in humans, there exist certain dental pathologies such as resorptive lesions or fractures that can be detected with dental X-Ray, which is recommended at every routine dental cleaning. With admirable patience and perseverance, Dr. Gagnon is able to remove tiny fragments of fractured or decayed teeth that, if left in place, could cause infection or disease in the future if not removed.
Anesthesia, pain management and the security of the patient
General anesthesia, which is required for every professional dental cleaning, is occasionally a point of concern for our clients. Our hospital provides the most complete anesthetic monitoring for every patient during all dental procedures, simple and complex.
– Intravenous fluids to maintain blood pressure
– The most efficient device for maintaining body temperature without the risk of burning.
– Incubator for small animals during the period of recovery.
– Constant monitoring of vital signs by an animal health technician during the entire procedure (Blood pressure, heart rate, electrocardiogram, oxygen saturation, temperature).
If there are dental extractions required a protocol of pain management is begun even before the patient awakens from anesthesia. The doctor will administer anti-inflammatory and analgesic medications by injection, followed by an infusion of medications by intravenous drip during recovery. This protocol favours a gentle and relatively pain free experience, allowing the patient to recover quickly and comfortably.
A mouth that is free from tartar, gingivitis and resorptive lesions will be much more comfortable after surgery and will provide a better quality of life. Pet owners often notice a significant difference in the attitude and energy of their companion after dental surgery, not to mention the incredible improvement in their breath!
Please do not hesitate to contact our health care team if you would like more information about dental disease prevention for your pet. We will be happy to explain the benefits and options available for good dental health.