Primary Care


Professional dental care is essential for the health and longevity. Disease in the mouth is a portal for infection and inflammation in the rest of the body. Heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease and bone infections are frequently traced back to infections in the oral cavity. Dental disease is painful but our pets are unable to express it in ways that are easy for owners to identify. They suffer in silence, but after the condition is resolved owners tell us over and over how much happier their furry family members are.  

The American Veterinary Dental Society reports that 80% of the pets in this country are suffering from dental disease. That means eight out of every ten patients we see in a day have a dental condition which needs to be addressed. That is a staggering number of animals!

Wellness requires the mouth to be healthy and VCA AWC is committed to excellence in the field of Dentistry. Our state-of-the-art Dental Suite is specially designed and equipped with the same top-tier technology used by veterinary dental specialists. Our ultrasonic scaling and polishing unit is state-of-the-art. Our anesthetic procedures and protocols utilize the same gas anesthetics and monitoring equipment used by our surgeons. VCA AWC uses the Schick Digital Technology to take detailed x-rays. Schick is the leader in human and veterinary dental radiography. Their unit is unsurpassed in speed and image quality allowing our doctors to accurately diagnose and treat even the most subtle problems. Early intervention is the key to keeping the teeth healthy and preventing painful conditions down the road.

Detailed Oral Health Assessment
The Oral Health Assessment is a careful examination of each tooth looking for damaged teeth, infections, abscesses, gingival pockets, loose teeth, crowding of teeth, and mal-positioned teeth. The veterinarian then compiles the information in the patient’s dental chart.

But there is more to this assessment than the health of each tooth. The examination also covers the condition of all of the other oral structures such as the tongue, tonsils, hard and soft palates, and gums.  The doctor will also perform a careful examination for the presence of oral masses.

Stages of Dental Disease

  • Stage I Dental Disease patients have gingivitis (inflammation in the gums), plaque without tartar, no loose teeth, and no bone loss. At this stage, disease is reversible. This is treated with daily home brushing
  • Stage II Dental Disease patients have gingivitis and tartar, there are pockets between the gingiva and tooth or gingival recession, and there is up to twenty five percent bone loss on at least one tooth. This is treated with dental prophylaxis, 1.2% fluoride treatment of the crowns, and Oravet®
  • Stage III Dental Disease patients have slight root exposure, gingival recession, mobility of one or more teeth, and 25-50% loss of the tooth’s attachment to the jaw bone. This is treated with dental prophylaxis, closed root planing of exposed roots and Doxirobe® (a long acting antibiotic) that is placed in gingival pockets, and Oravet®
  • Stage IV Dental Disease Patients have a large amount of root exposure, significant tooth mobility, deep pockets and gingival recession, and greater than 50% loss of bone attachment. This is treated with oral surgery. In order to save teeth, at least temporarily, gingival flaps to expose the roots are created. Then the roots are cleaned with root planning and Doxirobe® is applied to the roots and pockets. The flap is then sutured closed. It is critical to brush these teeth at least once daily. Most teeth cannot be saved at this stage and therefore oral surgery is done to remove these teeth. After removal, large teeth such as canines and carnassials leave a large space in the jaw bone. In order to stimulate bone regrowth into this area, Consil®, a synthetic bone graft, is applied in the space, as is Doxirobe®. Oravet® is applied as the final step.
  • Fractured Teeth are considered Stage IV Dental Disease. Some of these teeth must be extracted while others can be saved if the tooth has a healthy root canal. We refer patients to a Board Certified Veterinary Dentist if clients are interested in a root canal

Digital Dental Radiography
Digital X-rays allow us to see instantaneous, high resolution images of the structures under the gum line. The speed of our equipment translates to shorter anesthetic times for our patients. The detail of the images allows our doctors to find very subtle abnormalities so early intervention can prevent tooth loss and pain.

Oral Surgery
Certain oral conditions require surgical intervention. Whether it is a mass which must be removed, a fractured tooth root to be extracted, a biopsy of abnormal tissue, or tissue grafts our doctors have the equipment and the ability to perform the procedure.

Periodontal Therapy
Eighty percent of the dogs and cats in this country have Periodontal Disease (see Stages of Periodontal Disease). Periodontal Disease is the infection and inflammation of the structures which support the teeth. As it progresses the infection gradually destroys these structures and the tooth is lost.  Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss and oral pain in our patients. If caught early it can be reversed, but the later stages of this condition can only be controlled with careful oral hygiene and professional care.

Therapies vary with the stage of disease. They can include gingival curettage, root planning, deposition of Doxirobe gel (a long acting local antibiotic), fluoride treatment, synthetic bone grafts, and surgical extraction.  

Synthetic Bone Graph
The aftermath of severe dental disease can be extensive loss of bone from the jaw.  Bone grafts are used to fill these defects and re-establish structural integrity to support the remaining teeth.  Consil is a synthetic bioactive ceramic which is implanted in the patient to allow healthy bone to regenerate and fill the defect.

Comprehensive Pain Management
VCA WC is committed to the comfort of all our patients. We use a comprehensive, multi-modal approach to pain management. Medications are given to our patients before, during and after their procedures. Specific combinations of NSAIDS, narcotic analgesics, and local anesthetics are tailored to the needs of each patient.

Laser Therapy for Oral Pain and Inflammation
The therapy laser is excellent at alleviating oral pain. Laser energy reduces pain and inflammation of the tissues. It also speeds healing by improving the blood supply and stimulating the repair processes of damaged cells. It has also been shown to provide significant relief to many of the chronic inflammatory conditions of the oral cavity such as feline stomatitis and canine CUPS.

Home Dental Care Products
The single most important and effective way you can keep your pet’s teeth healthy is good oral home care. We have a wide variety of specially designed tooth brushes, flavored tooth pastes, oral rinses, therapeutic tartar reduction diets, chew treats which help remove plaque, dental wipes and water additives to help you get into the habit of keeping their teeth in top shape. We are happy to give free demonstrations of any of the products we carry, just ask! Our goal is to help you succeed. Detailed Oral Health Assessment

Feline Odontoclastic Resportive Lesion

Cats develop a unique condition called a FORL (Feline Odontoclastic Resportive Lesion).  FORLs are painful cavity-like lesions seen in 75% of cats over 5 years of age. There are many theories as to the cause of this destructive process,  hopefully ongoing research will someday give us the answer and show us how to prevent them. The most common teeth to be affected are the upper and lower premolars and molars. In the early stages they appear as small pitting in the enamel. As they progress the increasing pain will cause an overgrowth of red gum tissue at the site. In time, the cavity will penetrate the pulp canal, the crown will fracture, and bacteria from the oral cavity will have access to the cat’s tooth, bone, and blood stream. These teeth must be extracted to control the cat’s pain.  There is no known prevention for this condition