Dental care for pets is almost more vital than our own dental needs, as they cannot and generally do not tolerate tooth brushing!
Bad breath is usually the first thing an owner notices when a pet has developed dental disease. Often the dental disease has been present for sometime before this.
It’s never easy to do a thorough examination of a pet’s mouth whilst they are awake so if your veterinarian sees signs of dental disease they will suggest an anesthetic for a scale and polish and any other dental care that might be found to be needed.
Dental disease leads to pain, infection and inflammation and can be very debilitating for pets.
Our dental vet is Dr Judith. She sees pets for dental work Monday to Friday, by appointment only. She will always give an you an idea of the work required and also of the expected costs before starting. Many of the pet medical insurances cover dentistry.
The Dental Scale and Polish procedure
All pets requiring a scale and polish will have a general anesthetic so will need to have 12 hours without food and no water on the morning of the procedure.
Often it is older pets that need dental treatment, and it may be necessary to run blood tests to check organ function and assess them for the anesthetic. To maximise safety we have a top anesthetic team led by Dr Gareth Zeiler, a specialist animal anesthetist. For older pets or those that have an increased risk the specialist anesthetist can be with your pet for the procedure.
The mouth is prepared for a proper examination by removing the surface tartar – this scale and polish involves descaling the teeth using an ultrasonic de-scaler, which removes scale from the teeth with almost no damage to the enamel.
The teeth and gums are then examined for any disease or damage, often aided by dental specific X-rays. Severely compromised teeth may need to be extracted.
When all the cleaning and extraction work is complete, the teeth are polished with a high-speed dental polisher and special paste. It is essential this is done as the ultrasonic scaler makes microscopic scratches in the tooth enamel which, if not polished out, will be an excellent place for food and bacteria to start to build up again.
Some patients may be sent home with a course of antibiotic tablets and/or painkillers. Older animals are often kept overnight to monitor their full recovery from the anesthetic, and to ensure they are eating well prior to going home.
Yearly check-ups will minimise potentially serious problems in your pet’s mouth and end up sparing them much discomfort – to wait until your pet is battling to eat or has a foul breath may be too late!