Miss Kira’s Corner

Answers to Pet Owners’ Most Frequently Asked Questions About Pet Dental Care

By February 23, 2018 No Comments

By The Veterinarians and Staff at Porte Veterinary Hospital in Campbell, CA

What is ‘a dental’ in terms my pet’s oral health care?

Veterinary professionals often say ‘a dental’ or ‘a dental prophy’ as an abbreviation for the procedure also known as a prophylactic teeth cleaning.

Why does my pet need a dental or prophylactic teeth cleaning?

It has been estimated that 80% of pets over the age of three years old have some level of dental disease or periodontitis.

Even if your pet’s teeth look white and shiny to you, there could be harmful bacterial infections lurking just below your pet’s gum line (where you can’t see it).

When left unchecked – untreated – the bacteria multiply and eat away at your pet’s teeth, gum tissue, and bone. Your pet’s internal organs can also be harmed as oral tissue offers a direct route for bacteria to enter your pet’s blood stream. In addition, your pet ingests bacteria simply by swallowing their saliva. We see a range of medical problems with pets’ hearts, lungs, liver, and kidneys – much of which could have been largely avoided with professional veterinary dental care.

How much bacteria could possibly be hiding on my pet’s tiny teeth?

One milligram of plaque can harbor one trillion bacteria.

What is the difference between tartar and plaque?

Tartar, sometimes called calculus, is calcified (mineralized) and hardened plaque. Tartar build-up happens when plaque is not cleaned away. Regular brushing helps reduce plaque before it calcifies into rock hard tartar.

Isn’t it natural that dogs have ‘dog breath’ and cats have somewhat stinky breath, too?

Although you can’t expect minty fresh breath, you should definitely not notice any foul odor. Odor is usually a sign of infection. This does not get better on its own.

Why does my pet have to be anesthetized for a dental?

Because pets won’t open wide, say “Aaaaaah”, rinse-and-spit on command, or sit perfectly still while we examine their mouth, probe and chart every tooth (as your own dentist does), take dental x-rays, or clean and polish their teeth.

Anesthetizing your pet is the only way to safely perform a complete oral health assessment and treatment.

What if my pet’s teeth are chipped, broken, or fractured?

Those teeth will be evaluated by the veterinarian.

If an uncomplicated small fracture is present, it can often be shaped and sealed with bonded sealant which lasts for 1 year. At the 1-year mark, the tooth will be reevaluated and either resealed or extracted at that time.

If the fracture is confirmed and the root canal exposed, then extraction or root canal are the only treatment options. Root canals should be performed by board certified veterinarians.

Once my pet’s teeth have been professionally cleaned, how do we keep the tartar from building-up again?

Two weeks after your pet’s dental, we’ll complete a complimentary recheck exam during which we will take a peek in your pet’s mouth to ensure all is well and then we’ll demonstrate how you can help prevent plaque build-up from forming on your pet’s teeth by using a wide variety of products available on the market now – including toothbrushes and special toothpaste (safe for pets) in a variety of flavors.

Here is a link to the VOHC.org which has a list of products which have been tested and approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council.

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