Specialty Dentistry For Pets
The Animal Care Center is the only general veterinary practice in Douglas County to have specialty dentistry. We have partnered with Advanced Dentistry and Oral Surgery out of Colorado Springs to provide expanded expertise and services for you and your pet. Dr. Patrick Vall and Dr. Tony Woodward are pioneers in dentistry education, having taught general practitioners how to perform dentistry for years. Our own doctors have completed their courses and been the beneficiaries of their exceptional teaching.
Because pets naturally mask pain, we don’t always know when they are hurting. In fact, 30 to 40 percent of dental disease can’t be identified without full mouth x-rays. If you’ve ever had a bad tooth that needed a root canal, you know how painful it can be. This dental pain is just as impactful to the health of our pets as it is to us. Our pets need dental care every bit as much as we do, and the frequency of dental disease in companion animals is rather high. It is estimated that over 80 percent of pets wind up with periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years old.
How do you know if your pet needs to be treated for dental diseases?
Imagine how your teeth would look and feel if you didn’t brush them. The pain would affect your everyday life. The same can be said for our pets. Even though they do try to mask their pain, there are signs and symptoms of dental diseases every owner should watch out for.
Signs and Symptoms
A change in eating habit:
Dogs usually eat heartily. However, if they have pain in their mouth, they eat slowly and sometimes drop food that is too large or difficult to chew. They may also chew on only one side of the mouth.
If the pain in their mouth is too severe, pets will stop eating altogether to avoid hurting themselves more.
Drooling is a sign of pain. If your dog suddenly begins to drool a lot, be sure to check inside his mouth for possible dental problems.
The most common causes of bad breath in dogs are periodontal diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis. If your pet has bad breath and is drooling excessively, there is a high chance that he is suffering from some form of dental problems.
A pet with periodontal disease will have gums that have turned red. That is the result of inflammation of the gums – there is an increase in blood supply and an influx of white blood cells to fight infection.
Dogs with dental problems bleed easily, sometimes even when eating, because inflammation can weaken the walls of the blood vessels.
Canine dental problems can cause swelling in the mouth – check the gums around the edges of the teeth and higher up and deep under the lips. Swellings can also occur on the face just below the eye. Sometimes, these can be linked to tooth root abscesses.
Other Signs of Pain:
You will also notice other signs indicating that the dog is in pain, such as pawing at the mouth, lethargy, and reluctance to play or move.
A New Lease on Life
Pets with abscesses, broken teeth, or periodontal disease can experience a significant amount of discomfort. It is not uncommon for us to hear from clients that their pet was reluctant to be touched on the head, was nippy towards others, or was simply grumpy in general. After a dental procedure, those clients often report that their pet has a new attitude about life and is happier and healthier overall.
Foundation to Good Health
Periodontal disease can also lead to tooth loss and the excess bacteria can even damage internal organs. The health of your pet is as important to us as it is to you, which is why we place such a focus on dentistry in our practice. We want to encourage you to take regular care of your pet’s teeth, from adopting a regular brushing practice to coming in for periodic teeth cleaning. Doing so can prevent the need for dental surgery and can protect your pet from pain, tooth loss and possible illness.
Why Dental Cleanings are Important
Like us, our pets struggle with bacteria buildup on their teeth. When combined with food, these bacteria create plaque that coats the teeth. The plaque will combine with your pet’s saliva to form tartar, the hard coating that is impossible to remove without a teeth cleaning. This allows bacteria to get under the gums, where it eventually begins to eat away at the surrounding tissue, including gums and bones. Given enough time, this can lead to bone loss, kidney and liver issues, and in some cases even heart issues. All of this damage can be prevented with a regular dental regime.
Our practice offers dental cleaning five days a week, and on every other Friday our board-certified dentists come in for more in-depth dental procedures. Brushing your pet’s teeth at home and coming in for a bi-annual teeth cleaning can usually prevent the advancement of gingivitis and the eventual development of periodontics – the destruction of tissue by bacteria. Our teeth cleaning procedure involves putting your animal under general anesthesia – necessary to completely clean the teeth – and subsequent removal of plaque and tarter both below and above the gum line. While the animal is under we can examine the entire mouth, including the tongue, gums and teeth for any problems.
We are the only veterinary practice in Douglas County to have specialty dentistry. We have partnered with Advanced Dentistry and Oral Surgery out of Colorado Springs, allowing us to perform advanced dental procedures in our clinic including:
- Root canals
- Jaw Fractures
- Repair broken teeth
Broken teeth, abscessed teeth, oral tumors, gum disease, and many other oral problems commonly affect our pets. Animals naturally mask pain as a predatory defense. These conditions are painful, yet can remain undetected for years. FAQ’s About Pet Dental Problems
The findings show that periodontal disease is the most common disorder affecting cats and dogs worldwide, and informal estimates put its prevalence as high as 85%. The 10 breeds most predisposed to periodontal disease are as follows:
- Toy Poodle
- Yorkshire Terrier
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Standard Poodle
- Siamese cats
Dental At Risk Breeds
Banfield’s Applied Research and Knowledge (BARK) teamreviewed nearly 115,000 office visits. The findings show that periodontal disease is the most common disorder affecting cats and dogs worldwide, and informal estimates put it’s prevalence as high as 85%. The 10 breeds most predisposed to periodontal disease are as follows:
- Toy Poodle
- Yorkshire Terrier
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Standard Poodle
While both cats and dogs need regular professional cleanings, at risk breeds need special attention and will benefit from biannual exams as well as daily at home care.
The reality is that even with regular brushing, which is the most effective preventative of dental disease, pets can still get periodontal disease. However, regular dental evaluations and cleanings are even more important if we don’t have the time or ability to brush your pet’s teeth regularly. Roughly 30 to 40 percent of dental disease is above the gum line, meaning we can’t see it. That’s why we bundle full mouth digital x-rays with all of our cleanings. In essence, we pay for your x-rays when you compare our rates to those of other practices. Our cleaning bundle includes:
- Three person surgical team (1 doctor, an anesthesia tech, and a hygienist)
- Post-surgical recovery nurse
- Local blocks for pain management
- Full mouth x-rays
- Ultrasonic scalars (less risk of scoring teeth and clean higher in the gum line without damaging tissue)
- Blood work
- Anesthesia and fluids
Call us for pricing and more information.
Questions about anesthesia
Is it safe for older pets? Anesthesia, when done correctly, is very safe for older pets. Older pets can have some unique anesthetic concerns, which influence the drugs used and doses of those drugs. Proper drug selection, identification of any pre-existing medical conditions, and diligent patient monitoring are the keys to success with geriatric patients. We routinely treat dogs and cats up to 20 years of age.
How safe is anesthesia in general? The idea of general anesthesia for pets concerns some owners. While there are always some risks for pets under anesthesia, they are minimal with proper precautions and monitoring. The safety of anesthesia depends primarily on the skill and training of the person responsible for the procedure. In veterinary medicine, this varies a great deal from practice to practice. In some practices, the lay staff performs all aspects of the anesthetic procedure, including selecting the drugs, selecting appropriate doses for the patient, and administering the drugs. While some technical staff do a good job with this, we feel that these functions are best done by a veterinarian. At the Animal Care Center, the doctor formulates the anesthetic protocol for each pet and personally monitors the anesthetic episode with a dedicated team for each patient. This team consists of the doctor, two support staff and a dedicated recovery nurse.
See this video
With proper screen and monitoring, anesthesia can be used even for health-compromised pets. Kim Spelts, BS, CVY, VTS, is an anesthesia-certified technician. She operates an independent service to monitor patients and has extensive training and experience running anesthesia for companion pets. Kim is an adjunct part of our team and can be scheduled for any procedure. You can learn more about her through her website at www.peakvas.com .
Anesthesia-free cleaning for pets
This may be worse for the pet than doing nothing at all. Removing the visible tartar from above the gum line is only one of the twelve steps involved in a proper dental cleaning, and is not even the most important part. This is the only part of the cleaning that can be performed on a fully conscious animal, and it cannot be done very well. Aerosoling bacteria without intubation releases millions of bacteria that can be breathed into the lungs. Think of your experience when you have your teeth cleaned. For 45 minutes you remain reasonably still while they scrape your teeth, having you spit out periodically. Now imagine if someone tried to do this to you without explaining the process. Imagine if you had a painful area in your mouth as most dogs and cats getting their teeth cleaned do. Imagine how involved the cleaning would be if you did not ever brush your teeth, like most pets, How complete would the job really be? Those providing anesthesia-free cleanings have no training in identifying or treating dental problems in pets. All they can do is remove– painfully– some of the tartar in your pet’s mouth. They cannot clean under the gum line (the most important part of the cleaning) or obtain any dental radiographs of problem areas. This is worse than doing nothing, because it gives the owner a sense that the pet has been well cared for. It also leaves a very rough surface that actually promotes future dental disease. Proper dental care in animals requires general anesthesia.
Because proper pet dental care is so important, Animal Dental Care now offers a package rate on dog or cat dental cleaning. These savings will make a veterinary dental cleaning more affordable for pet owners. Pet owners can now learn more about Anesthesia Free Dental Cleanings at www.avdc.org/AFD – an excellent new resource for pet owners to learn the facts about this procedure and to make an informed choice about their pet’s dental health.