Pet Dental Care
What is veterinary dentistry, and who should perform it?
Veterinary dentistry includes the cleaning, adjustment, filing, extraction, or repair of your pets’ teeth and all other aspects of oral health care. These procedures should be performed by a veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary dentist. Subject to state or provincial regulation, veterinary technicians are allowed to perform certain dental procedures under the supervision of a veterinarian. The process begins with an oral exam of your pet’s mouth by a veterinarian. Radiographs (x-rays) may be needed to evaluate the health of the jaw and the tooth roots below the gumline. Because most dental disease occurs below the gumline, where you can’t see it, a thorough dental cleaning and evaluation are performed under anesthesia. Dental cleaning includes scaling (to remove dental plaque and tartar) and polishing, similar to the process used on your own teeth during your regular dental cleanings.
Oral health in dogs and cats
Your pet’s teeth should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy. Have your pet’s teeth checked sooner if you observe any of the following problems:
Broken or Loose Teeth
Extra Teeth or Retained Baby Teeth
Teeth that are Discolored or Covered in Tartar
Abnormal Chewing, Drooling, or Dropping Food from the Mouth
Reduced Appetite or Refusal to Eat
Pain in or Around the Mouth
Bleeding from the Mouth
Swelling in the Areas Surrounding the Mouth
Causes of pet dental problems
Broken Teeth and Roots
Abscesses or Infected Teeth
Cysts or Tumors in the Mouth
Malocclusion, or Misalignment of the Teeth and Bite
Broken (Fractured) Jaw
Plate Defects (Such as Cleft Palate)
Why does dentistry require anesthesia?
What can I do at home for my pet’s oral health?
Prevention of the most common oral disease in pets consists of frequent removal of the dental plaque and tartar that forms on teeth that are not kept clean. Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth is the single most effective thing you can do to keep their teeth healthy between dental cleanings, and may reduce the frequency or even eliminate the need for periodic dental cleaning by your veterinarian. Daily brushing is best, but it’s not always possible and brushing several times a week can be effective. Most dogs accept brushing, but cats can be a bit more resistant – patience and training are important. There are many pet products marketed with claims that they improve dental health, but not all of them are effective. Talk with your veterinarian about any dental products, treats, or dental-specific diets you’re considering for your pet, or ask your veterinarian for their recommendation.