Maintaining oral health is an important way to promote a long, comfortable life.

Why is dental care important?

  1. Pets with gingivitis are uncomfortable, and more advanced periodontal disease is painful.
  2. Gum disease can lead to infections of the heart, kidneys, and other organs.
  3. Preventing advanced dental disease is cheaper, safer, and less painful than treating high grade disease.
  4. Foul breath makes it harder to enjoy your pet’s company.

Dental Grading

No plaque or gingivitis present. Young, healthy dogs and cats between 6 and 12 months of age are often grade 0. Daily home care using products approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) is advised.

Mild plaque present. Often reversible with brushing and appropriate chewing. The daily use of VOHC-approved products is advised. Otherwise, a professional prophylactic dental cleaning is indicated.

Mild to moderate tartar (mineralized plaque and bacteria) and gingivitis are present on multiple teeth. X-rays find 0-25% supporting bone loss. A professional dental cleaning is indicated to prevent further decay and destruction.

Heavy tartar and periodontal disease with destruction of bone support are present. This mouth is painful. Tooth lesions and fractures may be present under tartar. A professional cleaning is needed, and advanced treatments like periodontal therapy along with committed daily home dental care (brushing, use of VOHC-approved products) might prevent progression of disease and tooth loss.

Severe tartar, periodontal disease, and pain are present. Permanent damage has occured, more than half the tooth’s bone support is destroyed, and tooth loss is imminent. Professional dental treatment, including extractions, is urgently needed to control ongoing pain and infection.

Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment

According to national guidelines, an anesthetized dental cleaning including dental x-rays is indicated when abnormalities like tartar and gingivitis are seen on awake exam, or at least on an annual basis starting at 1 year of age for cats and small/medium dogs and 2 years of age for large dogs.

Our standards include the use of the safest anesthetics available and advanced anesthesia monitoring with both electronic equipment and a licensed veterinary nurse anesthetist. A pre-anesthetic exam and blood work are done to screen for potential anesthesia risks.

Then, an IV catheter is placed to deliver IV fluids during the procedure and provide immediate access for life-saving medications in the event of an anesthetic complication. Gas anesthesia and oxygen are delivered via an endotracheal tube with an inflated cuff that protects the airways from oral debris loosened during the procedure.

We make use of pre-, intra-, and post-operative pain management measures to make sure your pet is comfortable before, during, and after dental procedures.

During our anesthetized oral evaluation and cleaning, we go beyond surface-level examination by performing full-mouth x-rays in addition to meticulous probing and charting of your pet’s mouth. These x-rays are essential for detecting hidden dental issues such as fractures, abscesses, or abnormalities in the tooth roots that may not be visible during a visual examination alone.

Each tooth undergoes careful evaluation to determine the most appropriate treatment option tailored to your pet’s needs. Since a comprehensive oral exam is not feasible without anesthesia, precise treatment plans are challenging to establish beforehand.

Should our assessment reveal the need for additional treatments, our team will promptly reach out to you with an updated treatment plan. Depending on the complexity of the issues detected, a follow-up visit may be required for further treatment to ensure your pet’s oral health is fully addressed.

Commonly Indicated Treatments for Moderate to Advanced Dental Disease

  • Oral surgery/extractions including local oral nerve block(s), use of sterilized extractions packs, post-operative oral x-rays, and post-extraction laser therapy to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Enamel bonded sealant application
  • Periodontal disease treatment
  • Post-procedure pain management

Read more on dental health from Dr. Alison!