Dental disease is one of the most common diseases we diagnose in our patients--up to 80% of cats and 70% of dogs have detectable periodontal disease by the age of 3. Left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to progressive oral disease (such as jaw fractures) or systemic disease (such as kidney or liver disease).
Our hospital offers a variety of Dentistry Services through our VCA Hanson location. Our veterinarians are available on Fridays to perform these procedures, but any of the veterinarians at VCA Hanson are willing to service you and your pet if a Friday is inconvenient for your schedule.
Dental procedures include cleaning the teeth (prophylaxis), polishing, and a full oral examination, which is performed with your pet under general anesthesia. Lab work is routinely performed prior to any procedure involving anesthesia. This allows for personalized selection of medications, which allow for the safest anesthetic event for your pet. The term anesthesia indicates the use of medication to block sensation, typically resulting in unconsciousness. Anesthesia is induced using a variety of medications, which your veterinarian can describe in detail at your pet's next visit. While a patient is under general anesthesia, he or she will be monitored in much the same way as a human undergoing anesthesia would be. This monitoring includes listening to your pet's heart and lungs, visually assessing your pet's reflexes, and using equipment to monitor your pet's blood pressure, level of blood oxygen, temperature, and heart rate. Trained technicians act alongside veterinarians to ensure that your pet's procedure goes smoothly.
Dental prophylaxis involves cleaning the surface of each tooth and scaling below the gumline, where food, bacteria, and tartar build up. During a dental procedure, your veterinarian will also evaluate your pet's teeth for fractures, caries (cavities), excessive wear, and other abnormalities. Your veterinarian will also examine around the gums to detect periodontal disease.
Dental x-rays further aid in selection of teeth to be pulled and to aid in evaluation of periodontal and other oral diseases, as it allows us to visualize what is going on in the bone and below the gumline. We are proud to offer state-of-the-art Digital Radiology Services, which are obtained with the use of a digital image capture device connected to a computer to record the image. There are many advantages to digital x-rays including a shorter time to take the x-ray, lack of chemicals needed to process an x-ray and less radiation exposure to your pet and veterinarian. These x-rays can also be digitally enhanced for best visualization of a problem. Digital x-rays can easily be copied to disk, magnified or sent to a specialist for evaluation at the press of a button. Ask our staff or veterinarians if you have questions about digital x-rays.
Sometimes teeth need to be pulled (extracted), or further treatments may be necessary. If extractions are necessary, you can be assured that your pet will be in minimal discomfort upon release. Pain management medications are standard with all of our dental procedures, and may include local blocks and oral medications for administration at home.
Dr. Politano at VCA South Shore (in Weymouth) or Dr. Callahan at VCA Roberts (in Hanover) are two local veterinarians with a special interest in dentistry, who welcome any of our patients for more advanced or urgent care. If your pet is found to have more advanced dental or periodontal disease, your veterinarian may recommend referral to a board certified veterinary dentist.
What are some symptoms of periodontal disease?
- Problems picking up food
- Bleeding or red gums
- Loose teeth
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Bumps or lumps in the mouth
- Bloody or ropey saliva or water in the water bowl
- Chewing on one side of the mouth
- Sneezing or nasal discharge
What can you do at home to help prevent dental disease?
- Take your dog in for regular oral exams and cleanings.
- Brush your pet's teeth every day. Just as daily brushing is important for your own dental health, the same is true for your pets. Please ask our veterinary team for a demonstration at your next appointment--we are happy to help provide you with the tools and knowledge you will need to keep your pet's pearly white smile healthy.
- Feed your pet quality food. While dry kibble is better for dental health in general, some pets need the added benefit from "dental diets" that help scrub their teeth as they chew, or contain mouthwash-like additives that prevent plaque from hardening. We offer Hills T/D and Royal Canin Dental diets at our practice, but do not hesitate to discuss what diet is right for your pet at your appointment. There are also some dental treats available on the market, such as C.E.T. VeggieDent chews, Greenies Dental Chews, or OraVet Chews. Please view the website for the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) for further ideas.
- Provide dental treats as a supplement. Offer safe toys and treats for daily chewing. We do not recommend animal bones, nylon bones, or hooves, as these can fracture teeth (or cause gastrointestinal problems if a fragment is swallowed! Chewing every day on tooth-friendly goodies is another way to help prevent gum disease in dogs. Look for treats and toys that aren't hard, such as rubber balls or as well as rubbery toys (like Kongs) in which you can hide treats.