Southfields Vets

Dental Disease Information 


Does my pet need a dental?

Dental disease is extremely common in dogs and cats, particularly as they get older. Dental disease is important because bacteria from the teeth and gums can enter the bloodstream and cause secondary kidney problems.

Not all pets will show physical symptoms of dental disease, but signs to look out for may include:

  • Smelly breath
  • Reddening of the gums
  • Bleeding from the gums
  • Tartar building up on the teeth
  • Tooth loss or wobbly teeth
  • Gums receding away from the teeth
  • Loss of appetite or difficulty eating

If you suspect that your pet has a problem with their teeth, please book in for a free dental check up with one of our nursing team.

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How does dental disease develop?

Plaque starts to form on the teeth within a few hours of eating. Within 24 hours, plaque combines with salts from the saliva and starts to harden to form tartar.

Tartar causes harm to the teeth by forming a rough surface for bacteria to grow. These bacteria cause inflammation of the gums – gingivitis, which can become painful.

Tartar and infection at the gum-line can cause the gums to recede away from the tooth, exposing the sensitive, enamel-free part of the tooth. This can lead to tooth loss, or may allow infection to enter the tooth root or surrounding bone.

 

 

How do you treat dental disease?

Most pets will need to be booked in for a thorough cleaning and possibly tooth extractions, if the gums or teeth have been chronically damaged.

For older pets, or those with severe dental disease, we recommend a pre-operative blood test, to ensure that the pet can tolerate the anaesthetic safely, and that there is no pre-existing liver or kidney disease.

Your pet will be anaesthetised and a breathing tube placed. The teeth are cleaned using an ultrasonic scaler, similar to the one your dentist uses. The gums and teeth are then assessed to determine whether there are any cavities or gum pockets.

Any damaged teeth, or those where the gums have significantly receded, will be removed. The remaining teeth will be thoroughly polished, to smooth the surface and prevent plaque and bacteria from sticking.

Often, it is very difficult to assess how much work will be needed to treat a pet’s dental disease, since close examination of each tooth is required to assess its viability. This means that it is almost impossible to say beforehand how many extractions your pet may need, or how much the work will cost.

Instead we give a “ball-park” estimate for dental procedures – generally £150-£250 for cats and £150-£350 for dogs. However, very severe dental disease may cost more than this, and a simple scale and polish considerably less.

Your pet will stay with us for the day, and may go home with further treatment such as antibiotics and pain relief if needed.

Post-operative care

In an ideal world, you should brush your pet’s teeth every day, to remove plaque and stop it turning into tartar. However, we recognise that not all pets (or owners) will tolerate this, and so other options are available:

  • Prescription diets, such as Royal Canin Dental food, or Hills t/d.
  • Enzymatic toothpastes, like Logic, can help to slow the process even without brushing.
  • Use a water additive, like Aquadent, to reduce the bacterial count in the mouth, resulting in improved breath.
  • Plaque-off, a seaweed product, reduces the formation and attachment of tartar.
  • Dog chew toys and dental treats that are specifically designed to help reduce or remove mild tartar accumulation. Denta-flex or denta-stix are recommended.
  • Never let dogs chew on bones, horse hoofs, antlers, or brittle nylon toys which may break teeth.
  • Regular check ups with our veterinary nurses are also recommended.