Oral health is essential in maintaining good overall health. A few hours after eating bacteria attach to the teeth to form plaque, within hours mineral deposit adhere to the plaque and form tartar. The result is gingivitis (gum infection) which, if unchecked will lead to deep pockets forming around the teeth (Periodontal Disease). Besides the severe pain that it causes, tooth mobility, tooth death and eventually tooth loss will occur. During all these steps bacteria are showered into the blood stream and are the most frequent source of infection for the heart, liver and kidneys.
Dental Scaling and Polishing – called a Dental Prophylaxis, we use an ultrasonic dental scaler like our human dentist to remove plaque and tartar from the teeth. Once the teeth are cleaned they are examined by the doctor to ascertain if there are any abnormalities. If in doubt X-Rays are taken and the appropriate treatment performed. The teeth are then polished using a coarse and fine polishing paste, the mouth is flushed with an antiseptic and fluoride is applied to the teeth.
Unlike humans we do not hear the sound an ultrasonic scaler makes, pets do however and are scared of it. It takes 20 to 30 minutes to clean cat’s teeth and can take up to 40 minutes on a dog. It would be hard to ask them to lie there with their mouth open in addition to the noise the scaler makes. Dentistry therefore has to be done under general anesthesia.
However there is an even more important reason why we need to do it under general anesthesia: a pet’s teeth are very dirty, covered with plaque and tartar for years, and so a great numbers of bacteria will be aerosolized during the dental cleaning. If the pet is not breathing through a tube all those bacteria would end up in the lungs and serious pneumonia could occur. It is for this reason that the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has come up with a statement condemning dental cleaning without the pet being intubated and breathing a clean mixture of oxygen and anesthetic gas.
Animal 911 Veterinary Hospital has been an accredited member of the American Animal Hospital Association since 1993. As such we carefully follow the standards of veterinary practice established by this prestigious association.
Removal of Persistent Baby Teeth – pets change their teeth just like we do between the ages of 4.5 and 6 to 7 months. Sometimes, especially in toy breed dogs, the baby teeth do not fall out to make way for the adult teeth but stay in place and cause overcrowding. Due to this crowding food becomes trapped in between the teeth and gingivitis results, with time more severe problems develop. If we find persistent baby teeth on your pet, we will always recommend that they be removed as soon as possible.
Orthodontic Services – pets also suffer from bad bite problems. A bad bite will result in a less than pretty smile in people, but in pets often it causes more severe problems. The teeth are meant to come into contact with each other not the soft tissues of the mouth. If there is a bite problem one or many teeth may now hit the upper soft palate or the lower jaw. Severe injuries occur and deep holes in the palate are formed to accommodate the lower teeth. Every time the pet will close his mouth throughout his life there will be pain. To prevent this we can install an apparatus in the mouth that will deviate the offending tooth off to the side where it will no longer injure any soft tissue. Sometimes but rarely the teeth have to be extracted. This apparatus needs to be worn only for a short period of time somewhere between 3 to 8 weeks depending on the age of the pet. Once removed the new tooth position is permanent and no further treatments will be necessary.
Pulpotomy and Root Canals – If the tooth is essential for the pet’s well being and extraction is unnecessary, it can be salvaged doing a puplotomy or root canal. A Pulpotomy is a mini root canal; the tooth remains partially viable and will last the life of the pet.
Oral Surgery and Extractions – often enough the teeth cannot be salvaged and their removal is essential to the pet’s well being. During the dentistry procedure we examine each tooth individually and if the tooth is dead (if it is mobile and thus has lost its blood supply), or has a cavity or has deep pockets around the roots, then an extraction is necessary to stop the progression of the disease and to render the pet pain free. The doctor will perform oral surgery. Extractions will be performed; multi-rooted teeth are divided so that only one root is taken out at a time to prevent root fracture. If necessary flap surgery will be performed, where the gum is lifted, the jaw bone underneath removed with a high speed bur until the root is exposed and the tooth removed. Once everything is cleaned and flushed, the gum is sutured together so that the wound may heal quickly without any food getting compacted into the site.