Austin Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center’s dentistry department is equipped to manage and treat a wide array of dental issues in pets. Our board-certified veterinary dentist and specialized equipment allow us to treat advanced dental cases, including:
- Fractured or dislocated teeth
- Jaw fractures
- Exposed pulp
- Tooth-root abscesses
- Oral tumors
- Feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions
- Oronasal fistulas
- Oral diseases
We are proud to provide Austin’s pets with the most advanced dental care, but we would much rather your pet maintain good dental health and never need advanced treatment. Periodontal disease, which is inflammation of the gums and tissues surrounding the teeth, is the most commonly diagnosed disease in dogs and cats, and one that can be prevented. You may be surprised to learn that you can provide your pet with everything needed to avoid painful dental disease.
Professional Dental Cleanings for Your Pet
Like people, pets need regular professional dental cleanings. Your family veterinarian will evaluate your pet’s dental health during her regular wellness visits, and let you know when she should receive her next cleaning. Most pets require one professional cleaning per year, although some need more frequent cleanings to maintain good dental health. We are able to perform dental cleanings at our hospital, but most pet owners rely on their family veterinarian for routine, uncomplicated dental care, and visit us for problems requiring advanced equipment or specialized expertise.
A professional veterinary dental cleaning is similar to your human dentist’s process, except that your pet is anesthetized while the teeth are cleaned. Anesthesia is required because unlike humans, your pet cannot sit still or cooperate sufficiently to allow the veterinary team to effectively clean her teeth while awake. Being anesthetized also decreases their anxiety and ensures that they do not feel pain. It is much better for your pet to simply take a nap and wake up with a clean mouth.
An entire professional cleaning is referred to as a comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment, or COHAT, and includes much more than teeth cleaning. During a COHAT, your pet will benefit from every step of a thorough evaluation and cleaning, including:
- A thorough oral exam — Once your pet is anesthetized, their mouth can be opened wide and thoroughly evaluated. Every tooth surface, gums, oral tissues, and throat, are closely examined for abnormalities, such as fractured teeth, oral masses, and gingivitis, that may require treatment. Dental disease’s full extent is often not realized without an exam under anesthesia.
- Dental X-rays — Since 60% of each tooth is hidden below the gumline, the only way to fully assess your pet’s mouth is with dental X-rays. As plaque and tartar accumulate on visible tooth surfaces, it also builds up on tooth roots, causing periodontal disease, which can lead to tooth-root infections, abscesses, tooth loosening, and significant pain. Dental X-rays allow us to detect periodontal disease and identify teeth that are causing your pet pain, despite looking normal from the surface.
- Teeth scaling — An ultrasonic scaler is used to remove plaque and tartar from your pet’s tooth surfaces, both above and below the gumline. While removing tartar from the visible portion of your pet’s teeth helps their mouth look and smell better, removing plaque and tartar from the tooth root and below the gumline helps reverse gingival inflammation and periodontal damage.
- Teeth polishing —Teeth scaling leaves behind microscopic etchings that bacteria can invade, and resume their nasty assault on your pet’s mouth. Therefore, a slow-speed rotary polisher with prophy paste is used to buff away the crevices, leaving a smooth surface that resists plaque attachment.
- Gingival probing — As periodontal disease progresses, the tooth’s attachment to its bony socket deteriorates, and pockets can form around the tooth root. A dental probe is used along the gingival margin, where the gum tissue meets each tooth surface, to identify pockets and help diagnose periodontal disease.
- Oral rinsing — A final antimicrobial rinse is performed to wash away polishing paste, tartar pieces, and oral bacteria, and leave your pet’s mouth fresh and clean.
During your pet’s COHAT, if diseased teeth are identified that cannot be saved, they will be extracted to relieve your pet of her chronic dental pain.
At-Home Dental Care for Your Pet
Your pet’s mouth requires attention between dental cleanings. Once their teeth are clean and tartar-free, you can begin an at-home dental-care regimen to keep them in tip-top shape until her next cleaning. Regular toothbrushing removes sticky plaque before it can mineralize to tartar, which helps keep your pet’s mouth in optimal condition. Most pets readily accept daily toothbrushing sessions, and learn to appreciate the extra attention, as well as the beef-, chicken-, or fish-flavored toothpaste. Ask your pet’s veterinary team to show you how to brush your pet’s teeth to help ward off dental disease.
Are you ready to tackle your pet’s dental disease? See your family veterinarian for a dental evaluation and cleaning, and contact us if dental disease has progressed to the point that your pet needs specialized care.