dentistry (small animal)

Do you often have people complain about your pets' smelly breath? Do you often feel that furry feeling on your teeth and wonder what your teeth would be like if you never brushed them? Dental hygiene is just as, if not more important for your pets' health resume as it is for you.

Dental disease is caused by the bacteria in the mouth allowed to form plaque on the teeth. Without brushing that plaque off it builds up and cements onto your pets' teeth, this is called 'calculus' or 'tartar'. The calculus is full of nasty bacteria and is continuously absorbed into the bloodstream of your pet. The body's immune system recognises this build up as foreign matter and sends out an army of white blood cells to try and fight it off. All of this results in tissue damage, inflamed gums, bone loss and eventually loss of teeth. This is all very painful for your pet, even if they don't show it! Other than that untreated dental disease can cause heart failure, pathological fractures and abscesses.

Dental disease is graded on the severity of the disease and therefore the length of time required to perform treatment on the patient. Dental disease is graded out of 4. A dental disease grade 0 being perfectly clean teeth right through to dental disease grade 4 where extensive gingival recession and periodontal pocketing is seen and extractions are imminent. With a dental disease grade 4 your pet would be feeling significant pain and discomfort and it is highly likely that their heart, liver or kidney would already by affected by the infection in their mouth.

Symptoms of dental disease include:

  • Smelly breath
  • Only chewing on one side of the mouth
  • Difficulty picking up food or dropping food while eating
  • Blood on toys, in water bowl or in saliva
  • Bumps or lumps in or around the mouth
  • Draining abscesses on the face or in the mouth
  • Sneezing or nasal discharge

If any of these symptoms are observed your pet needs a dental. Your pet will be anaesthetised for this procedure as, unfortunately, they just won’t stay still enough for us to work on their teeth like human dentists do.

Once your pet is anaesthetised an endotracheal tube is placed to prevent plaque, bacteria or fluid getting into your pet’s lungs and to enable us to provide oxygen and an inhaled anaesthetic directly to their lungs. The teeth are scaled with an ultrasonic scaler, just like what your dentist uses on you. Any loose or fractured teeth or teeth with severe periodontal disease are removed using specialist dental equipment and nerve blocks are used to reduce pain and decrease anaesthesia required, the socket is flushed and cleaned then stitched if required. Radiographs are then taken to check what is going on below the gums. If any problems are found more extractions may be needed.

All of your pet’s teeth are then polished to ensure the surface of the tooth is smooth and less likely to have plaque attach to them. As your pet recovers from the anaesthesia in our intensive care unit (ICU) they will have continual nurse observation.

If you have any queries or would like to have your pets' teeth examined please phone the clinic on 074681 1523.