Dental Care

We offer two types of dental procedures for your pet – one with safe gas anesthesia and one without.  Anesthesia is often necessary for dental work that may be painful for your pet.

Deep cleaning below the gum line, removal of infected teeth, periodontal therapy, and x-rays all require use of anesthesia.

A non-anesthetic dental is excellent for pets that do not have severe tartar on their teeth, and have the right temperament.  It is also good for younger pets on maintenance plans.

Cooperative pets (that can tolerate being held for about 30 minutes) that have discolored teeth and/or bad breath are good candidates for a no anesthesia teeth cleaning.  A skilled veterinary dental assistant will scale, polish and clean your pet’s teeth without the use of general anesthetic.

Our dental technicians are experienced in both teeth cleaning and possess the patience and gentle restraint techniques needed to clean your pet’s teeth.  This type of teeth cleaning is excellent for pets that do not have severe tartar on their teeth. It is also good for younger pets on maintenance plans. All pets with suspected infection, decayed teeth, or those that are un-cooperative with restraint will need anesthesia.

Anesthesia is necessary for any dental work that might be painful for the pet. People often have their mouth “numbed” with injections of novocaine to prevent pain.

This is not practical or possible with pets. Deep cleaning of the roots (below the gum line), removal of infected teeth, periodontal therapy, filing broken teeth (rough edges) and x-rays all require the use of anesthesia.

Once we have professionally cleaned your pet’s teeth, there are some things that you can do to try to keep them clean. Your particular “follow-up” program will depend on how much time you can invest and how cooperative your pet is.

Your pet, whether canine or feline, needs your help to keep her mouth in good shape. It’s a responsibility we take on as guardians of our pets, just like feeding a nutritious diet, exercise, and wellness checkups.

  • You can brush your pet’s teeth weekly with a soft toothbrush. Hold the mouth shut and brush only the outside of the teeth. Special dog/cat toothpaste not only tastes better to the pet but it is safe when swallowed.  The newer products also contain tartar control agents that will make professional cleanings needed less often.
  • A germ control dental spray is also available for cats and dogs.  It is to be sprayed on the outside of the teeth at lease once weekly. It also helps with the pet’s breath.
  • Providing hard chew toys, biscuits and rawhide bones will help some. We have special enzymatic dental chews that help more than plain chew treats.
  • A new food (Hill’s T/D) is especially formulated to not only reduce new tartar formation but will also help to physically scrap existing plaque accumulations off of the teeth.
  • Finally, for cooperative pets, a routine visit to the hospital (every 6 months) will allow our skilled dental assistant to re-clean the teeth without anesthesia. This is the best, most convenient, and safest way to help your pet maintain a healthy mouth.

Q: Is anesthesia necessary?
A: SOMETIMES if your pet has infected teeth (that might require root treatments or removal) this is a painful procedure without anesthesia. Deep gum injections (like the novocaine injections our dentist uses) are not possible for dogs/cats. Some pets are uncooperative, and will not allow cleaning instruments in the mouth. These tools are sharp and can cause injury if the pet moves.

Q: Is there any risk?
A: The risk is absolutely minimal.  The dental disease is a greater risk to your pet than the anesthesia.

Q: Can anything be done to lessen the risk of anesthesia to help alleviate my concerns?
A: All pets under going an anesthetic procedure receive a comprehensive blood test, an intravenous catheter and fluids, and they are monitored throughout the procedure by a doctor and trained veterinary nurse.

Q: Why are x-rays of the teeth helpful?
A: As with people, most of the tooth is below the gum line and only visible with the help of an x-ray.  Hidden disease may be causing your pet pain.  X-rays also help us to reduce the number of extractions by revealing the status of the tooth root.  With a healthy root many teeth can be saved.

Q: If teeth must be extracted how will my pet be able to chew?
A: Dogs and cats do not really chew as we do, they tend to swallow their food whole. However, if many teeth are lost some pets do better with a change to soft (canned) foods.

Q: Can my pet go home the same day?
A: Usually yes…however, late admissions (after noon), needed blood tests, or slow wake-up from the anesthetic may make an overnight stay best for your pet.

Proper Cleaning

Proper care of the teeth is one of the most important and often ignored preventive health measures for your pet.  Untreated, dental infection can enter the bloodstream, damage vital organs and shorten your pet’s life.

How can you tell when your pet needs its teeth cleaned?

  • Your doctor has suggested it after a physical examination.
  • Bad breath is a noticeable problem.
  • You routinely examine your pet’s mouth and have noticed teeth that are discolored
  • Your pet’s mouth is sensitive and he/she will not allow you to look at the teeth.  Pain may cause difficulty eating.  Abnormal “clicking” sounds from the mouth are also suggestive of problems.
  • Blood or infection has been seen coming from the mouth (or on the bedding).

Even people who “brush after every meal” regularly need their own teeth cleaned professionally. Your pet certainly does not brush. Therefore, he or she will need periodic help from us. Most pets need their teeth cleaned yearly, but some may require it more (or less) often.