Rose Avenue vets provide caring and professional Pet Dentistry in Coffs Harbour for your cat and dog. Dental disease is one of the most commonly found problems in a consultation by vets and is also one of the problems most commonly overlooked by owners. In addition, it’s often difficult to spot the early signs of dental issues because animals react differently to pain. As a result, we recommend regular dental check-ups for your pet.
Plaque. The process, as with humans, starts with a build-up of plaque on the teeth. Plaque is a biofilm of living bacteria and their waste products. If this plaque is regularly removed by brushing, eating dry food, chewing bones or dental chew sticks, it can take many years to progress.
Tartar. If allowed to build up, plaque begins to mineralise and forms the hard, rock-like formation on the tooth’s surface known as ‘tartar’, ‘scale’ or ‘calculus’. Brushing will not remove tartar, and bones/dental sticks/dental food will remove some but not all, especially below the gumline. Moreover, tartar is a rough, porous material that allows bacteria at the tooth surface and gumline to thrive; it also allows better adhesion of the sticky plaque biofilm than the smooth enamel surface of a clean tooth. In addition, the rough tartar can also cause ulceration and lacerations to the inside of the cheek surface.
A scale and polish removes all of the tartar build-ups from teeth and smooths the surface to help prevent rapid plaque build-up.
Gingivitis. This is irritation and inflammation of the gum, which is caused by plaque and tartar. Sometimes the gums may bleed. Stages I and II dental disease encompass mild to moderate gingivitis with no periodontal disease.
Gingivitis is reversible, but it causes pain and is the beginning of more serious stages of dental disease. A scale and polish to remove the tartar build-up reverses the dental disease and allows the inflammation of the gums to resolve, giving you another chance to maintain a disease-free mouth.
Periodontal disease. Gingivitis leads to gum recession, bone resorption and breakdown of the periodontal ligament, which holds the tooth in the bony socket. Unfortunately, Periodontal disease is painful and irreversible; depending on the severity, extraction of affected teeth may be required. If the tartar covering the gum margin is moderate to severe, sometimes it is impossible to distinguish between stage II (gingivitis) and stage III (periodontal disease). This means that your vet will not be able to assess the stage of dental disease until the tartar is removed under anaesthetic, which makes an accurate estimate of costs before the procedure difficult.
Fractures. Fractured teeth are not uncommon in cats and dogs. Cats most often present with a fractured canine. Dogs often present with multiple chip fractures on all teeth from chewing stones, worn teeth from chewing tennis balls (which are very abrasive!!) and slab fractures of the carnassial teeth – these are the large flat teeth with three peaks in the side of the dog’s mouth. The fracture is often a piece still attached at the gumline on the tooth’s outer surface. Lastly, canine fractures are also not uncommon in dogs. Your vet can assess the severity of the fracture, whether or not it is likely to be causing pain and whether or not it requires removal.
Resorptive lesions. Cats are prone to another type of dental disease where the enamel dissolves in a spot on the tooth, exposing the pulp cavity. These are very painful and require the removal of the affected tooth. They usually occur at or below the gumline, can occur on teeth with or without tartar, and on the inside or outside surface of the teeth. Often they are not found until a dental procedure is performed.
Simple dental procedures on healthy animals are performed at our clinics in Coffs Harbour or Toormina. However, we refer to Rose Avenue Veterinary Hospital for complex operations and old or sick animals. So, if you are a Toormina Road Veterinary Clinic client, your veterinarian can advise you if this is the case.
As some extractions are not identified until the scale and polish have been performed, the anaesthetic is assumed to be medium to long in most cases. For this reason, you will be offered a pre-anaesthetic blood test to assess your pet’s organ function and identify any possible problems before the anaesthetic. In addition, intravenous fluid therapy is recommended for nearly all dental procedures to protect the organs and assist in the clearance of anaesthetic drugs. Your veterinarian may also recommend antibiotics or pain medication before or after the dental treatment, depending on the severity of the dental disease.
It’s challenging to identify the full extent of dental disease under a layer of tartar or to carefully check the inside surface of a tooth in an awake pet. Therefore, it isn’t easy to estimate whether and how many teeth will need to be removed until the anaesthetic and scale of the teeth. Consequently, please advise the vet or nurse when admitting your pet for a dental procedure whether we can remove any teeth necessary or whether you will require a telephone call to advise during the procedure. Please make sure that if you request a telephone call you are available to answer your phone as without your permission, we cannot remove the teeth. Consequently, a further anaesthetic may be necessary at an additional cost to you.
Because all dental procedures are performed under a general anaesthetic, your pet may not be interested in food on the day of surgery. If your pet is interested in food, we recommend that you only feed up to half a standard-sized meal, as the drugs used can make them nauseous and may lead to vomiting if fed too much. You can offer a normal amount of food the day after the procedure.
If your pet has had extractions, your pet will need to be fed small chunks of meat for 5 days after the procedure to prevent food either sticking to sutures, damaging the sore gums or getting stuck in the tooth sockets.
Your pet will have been given pain relief before, during and after the procedure. However, if you feel that your pet is suffering from discomfort, please let us know so that we can provide you with a longer course of pain relief medication.