Dental disease is the most common disease seen by veterinarians. It is estimated that more than 80% of dogs and 70% of cats develop tooth and gum disease by the age of 3 years.
Routine dental care is one of the best things you can do as a pet owner for the longevity of your pet. Dental care is just as important to your pet’s health as it is to your health! Plaque, tartar, gingivitis, and tooth decay cause a wide range of health problems.
Periodontitis is a condition that may be controlled but not totally cured. It is often seen in pets that are more than five years old and is classified under two categories, gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is the more mild form of periodontal disease. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gum tissue resulting in redness, swelling, and discomfort. Untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis or severe inflammation around the tooth root, which in turn can lead to tooth loss.
The first sign that your pet needs immediate dental care is usually bad breath. While this may not seem as if it would be a critical concern, it is an indication that bacteria are spreading inside your pet—and that bacteria can cause heart, liver, and kidney disease.
Other signs to look for are:
- Yellow, brown, or discolored teeth
- Loose teeth
- Red, inflamed gums
- Swollen mouth, jaws, or gums
- Doesn’t play with chew toys as often
- Pain when eating
Veterinary dentistry is very different from the equivalent process in people. For most of us, caring for our teeth and gums has been part of our daily routine since we were children. Consequently, a person’s visit to the dentist is relatively brief and does not require sedation, tests, or anesthesia. In contrast, veterinary dentistry is considerably more involved. It requires general anesthesia and, consequently, a day’s hospitalization as well as the skills of several people. Scaling and polishing under anesthesia are a must for your pet’s ultimate health and longevity. For more serious problems, we offer sealants and deep gingival antibiotics.
Frequently Asked Questions
What about the risks of anesthesia?
Though the incidence is minimal, anesthesia can be a very real risk for dogs and cats, just as it is for humans. At Great Neck Veterinary Clinic, we take care to further reduce the risks of anesthesia by following a proactive protocol to assess our patients and monitor their care throughout the dental procedure, including pre-anesthetic testing, inhalant gas, electronic and personal monitoring, and intravenous fluids.
We perform pre-surgical blood work for each of our patients before placing them under anesthesia. Our technical team monitors each patient throughout the dental procedure to ensure the patient is responding appropriately to the anesthesia. We use very safe anesthetics and monitor your pet for any adverse reactions as they recover.
The adverse effects of bad teeth on the overall health of the pet greatly outweigh the anesthetic risk.
Does my pet have to stay overnight after the dental procedure?
Generally, routine dental cleanings are an outpatient procedure. Patients check-in between 7 and 8 a.m. The procedure is performed in the late morning to early afternoon. Patients are ready to return home after 5 p.m. the same day. Pets receiving advanced dental procedures with X-rays and extractions also are dismissed the same day.
How long can my pet go between dental cleanings?
Some dogs (usually small breeds) can require a dental cleaning as often as every 6 months. Typically, after the age of 2 or 3, most dogs and cats will need a dental cleaning every 1 to 2 years. Your veterinarian can discuss your pet’s dental health and help you determine when a cleaning is needed.
Remember, just like humans, good oral hygiene at home increases the time between professional cleanings.
How can I schedule a dental appointment?
Please call (757) 481-2800 and our Client Service Associates will assist you in scheduling a dental appointment for your pet.