Dental Disease

Dental disease is the most common problem facing our dog and cat patients.

Many dogs and cats show some signs of disease by the age of 3.

Dental problems are often painful; they are detrimental to your pet’s wellbeing and so they should be addressed as soon as they are picked up.

Dental disease is most often caused by the growth of bacteria in plaque, the sticky substance which sticks to teeth. The bacteria cause the gums to become red, swollen and painful, in time this can lead to the teeth becoming loose.

These unstable teeth are painful when the animal is chewing, although many pets are masters at hiding their dental pain. Over time plaque can mineralise and build up to form tartar (hard, yellow crust).

When you have tooth pain you head straight on over to the dentist, right? Well, unfortunately, our dogs and cats can’t show us that they’re in pain very well.

Plus, the other signs of dental disease can be subtle and come on gradually, making them hard to spot. This often means that the disease can become severe before it is detected.

Some of the common signs of dental disease include:

  • Bad breath,
  • difficulty eating,
  • change of behaviour (more aggressive or grumpy),
  • poor grooming,
  • red swollen gums

If you are seeing these you should bring your pet in to see one of our vets or nurses for a check-up.

We can often work out the extent of a dental problem during an outpatient consultation. However, sometimes it is impossible to examine the entire mouth while a pet is awake, as fear or pain may make them reluctant to ‘open wide’. In some cases, it is essential to examine pets while they are asleep, under anaesthetic.

Although this can be worrying for owners, anaesthesia is generally a very safe option for pets and is frequently less stressful for them than an ‘awake’ assessment of their mouth. We are always happy to discuss anaesthesia and our safety protocols, and procedures are tailored to ensure patient safety.

What do we mean by a ‘dental’?

  • Thorough visual assessment of the gums, teeth and tongue.
  • Removal of all the tartar.
  • X-ray (digital) assessment of teeth
  • Extraction of painful, diseased teeth.
  • ‘Scale and polish’ to remove plaque (and associated bacteria) followed by polishing
  • Charting of the mouth to record oral health

If teeth are extracted during a dental, your pet will have pain relief prescribed by the vet and should have soft food for at least a few days to keep them comfortable and eating well.

You will receive written instructions about caring for your pet following their dental.

The number 1 way to stop dental disease is by brushing your pet’s teeth! We are happy to advise on how best to do this. Our nurses are happy to give tutorials and we have a range of information and material to help with brushing. As with so many things, prevention is better than cure!

If you would like more advice on teeth brushing or are concerned about your pet’s teeth, then book an appointment to see one of our vets or nurses – we would be delighted to see you and your pet.