Good dental care plays a crucial role in the quality of your pet's life. Dental disease is one of the most common health problems we see in adult cats and dogs. More than just bad breath, dental disease can cause pain, tooth/bone loss, infection, and affect internal organ function. The bacteria that resides in the mouth is a readily available source of infection for the rest of the body. Liver, kidney, and heart function can suffer from untreated oral disease. Dental disease is present in at least 85% of patients over the age of 3 years.
As part of regular physical examinations, our veterinarians evaluate the teeth and gums and grade them on a scale of 1-4 with 1 being the best and 4 the worst. Dental cleanings are recommended based on these scores. Teeth extractions may be done during the procedure if determined to be necessary by the veterinarian. Dental cleanings are performed under general anesthesia in order to properly clean and evaluate all of the teeth. If extractions are required, they are performed by our veterinarians and documented in the pet's medical chart. Most dental patients are able to return home the same day.
Grade I/ Minor: Soft plaque has built up on the surface of the teeth. A small amount of tartar is also present. Bacteria have grown, multiplied and invaded the gum tissues around the tooth causing early gingivits, and red, inflamed gums.
Grade 2/Moderate: Moderate tartar buildup is present. It has acted as a wedge, pushing the gums away from the teeth, causing food, bacteria, and debris to accumulate there. The gums are red, swollen, and painful and bleed when touched. At this stage, proper dental care is crucial to reverse the progress of dental disease.
Grade 3/Major: Plaque and tartar formation is heavy. Pockets of bacteria and debris have accumulated to form further pockets of infection along the teeth. The infection has destroyed tissues around the teeth and some have become loose. The gums are bright red and bleed freely.
Grade 4/Severe: Severe tartar formation and gum disease is present. Toxic debris and inflammation have caused extensive tissue death. Roots are infected, abscessed, and rotten. The thin wall of bone surrounding teeth has deteriorated, and many teeth are loose. Bacteria may be spreading through the entire body in the bloodstream, potentially causing harm to vital organs. Pain can also be severe at this stage.
All dental procedures are performed under general anesthesia. We use an ultrasonic scaler to clean the teeth and finish with a polish with flavored toothpaste. All dental patients are carefully monitored during and after the procedure, and pain medication is given when necessary to help ensure your pet is pain free after his/her procedure.