Dentistry Department

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Why Does My Pet Need A Veterinary Dentist?

From time to time, your general practice veterinarian may feel your pet needs the expertise of a veterinary dentist for certain conditions, such as root canal therapy or complicated oral surgery. In addition, veterinary dentists also often have access to more sophisticated diagnostic equipment and treatment options that can enhance the outcome of your pet's case. In addition, they have advanced knowledge about the most appropriate pain control and medication options needed to treat your pet's dental problems.

It is very important to remember that dental disease is the most common problem to affect small animals of any age. In fact, veterinary experts estimate that up to 80% of dogs and 70% of cats that do not receive proper dental care will develop signs of dental disease by the age of three. For these reasons, it is very important that your pet receives regular dental care and cleanings from your general practice veterinarian and, when required, more advanced care from a veterinary dentist.

You can be assured that a veterinarian who knows when to refer you and your pet to a veterinary dentist is one that is caring and committed to ensuring that your pet receives the highest level of care for their problem.

What Kinds of Problems Require the Expertise of a Veterinary Dentist?

Veterinary dentists can perform all routine veterinary care, such as routine dental examinations and cleanings. They are also trained to handle more complicated problems requiring major oral surgery, endodontics (root canal therapy), extractions, and orthodontics (yes, pets can wear braces, too!). Oral masses or lesions, broken teeth, broken jaws, oral tumors, and malocclusion should also be examined by a veterinary dentist.

Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved?

Your regular veterinarian will still supervise your pet's overall veterinary care, and will consult with the veterinary dentist regarding any pre or post treatment care. In general, the veterinary dentist treats the problem and reports findings and recommendations back to your general practice veterinarian. In some practices, only non-routine or complicated cases are referred to a veterinary dentist; in other practices, all dental care is referred to a veterinary dentist.

Signs That A Pet May Need Dental Care:

  • Bad breath
  • Drooling or excessive salivation
  • Pawing at the teeth or mouth
  • Discoloration or staining of the teeth
  • Visible tartar on the teeth
  • Red, irritated, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Difficulty eating
  • Discharge from the nose
  • Swelling under the eyes
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Lethargy and loss of vitality

Did You Know?

  • Dogs have 42 permanent teeth while cats have 30.
  • Symptoms of gum disease in dogs and cats include yellow and brown tartar buildup along the gum line, inflamed gums, and bad breath.
  • Smaller breeds of dogs seem to be particularly bothered by dental disease.
  • Dental problems are a common cause of weight loss and loss of appetite in older cats.
  • Braces are available for pets with bite abnormalities that need correction.

Our Dentistry Team

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