Sunday, 14 October 2018

Teeth talk

Periodontal disease is one of the most common problems seen in veterinary practice. It occurs in two forms: The first is gingivitis, a reversible inflammation of the gums. The second is periodontitis, an inflammation of the deeper structures supporting the teeth.
The problems begin when plaque that is made up of food particles, saliva and bacteria, starts to build up on your pet's teeth.To start with, the plaque is a soft off-white material, but if plaque remains, it quickly mineralises and hard brown tartar forms on the teeth (also called dental calculus). It commonly leads to gum inflammation (gingivitis). Bacteria begins to build up between the gums and the teeth.


Periodontitis develops as a continuation of gingivitis. If this inflammation is not controlled, the bacteria continue to accumulate between the teeth and gums, causing irritation, infection and bleeding. This inflammatory and infectious process can destroy the periodontal ligament as well as the substance that holds teeth in their sockets, which is called cementum. The roots may become so severely affected that some teeth become loose and fall out.

Bacteria surrounding the roots gain access to the blood stream and can affect your pet's organs -  the liver, kidneys, heart and lungs.


Treatment is directed towards preventing gingivitis from progressing to periodontitis and delaying the progress of periodontitis if it is established.

Signs of dental disease may include; 

  • Bad breath ( Halitosis)
  • Dribbling
  • May become head shy and resent mouth being touched
  • May avoid harder foods
  • May avoid eating on one side of the mouth
  • Poor grooming 
  • Rubbing or pawing at the mouth
  • Redness of the gums / bleeding gums
  • Discolouration of the teeth
  • Swelling on the face

It is important to remember that pets with dental pain may not show obvious signs and they frequently maintain a normal appetite.



Throughout October and November we are offering a FREE DENTAL HEALTH CHECK for your pet with a vet! Even if your pet is not showing any signs of dental disease it is worth coming along so that the vet can assess your pet's oral health. (If further treatment is recommended the vet will provide an estimate) 



Toby has his teeth cleaned 



Lovely seven year old Toby belongs to our head nurse Jazmin. He recently had a dental scale and polish after it was noticed that he had an accumulation of tartar on his teeth. Once tartar has formed on the teeth it needs to be removed professionally by the vet, as at this stage, home brushing will not remove it.


For this procedure animals require a general anaesthetic, so prior to the dental, Toby had a health check which involved a physical examination and then a blood test to assess the function of his liver and kidneys. With a clean bill of health, Toby was booked in for a dental. Cats and dogs need to be starved before having a general anaesthetic, so Toby was not allowed any breakfast on the morning of the procedure.



Toby was given an injection of pre-medication which helped him to relax (pictured). Jazmin then settled him into a kennel to allow some time for the pre-med to take effect. Jazmin set up the dental equipment and the equipment needed to anaesthetise Toby. After about 30 minutes Toby was feeling sleepy and was ready to be anaesthetised. 

Vet Lavanya, assisted by Jazmin, gave Toby an intravenous injection of anaesthetic; this is called induction. Toby was then intubated which involves inserting a tube through the mouth and into the trachea (windpipe).The tube is then attached to an anaesthetic circuit which provides anaesthetic gas and oxygen. This enables us to control and maintain the level of anaesthesia for the patient.






Lavanya used an ultrasonic dental scaler to remove the tartar and plaque from the visible surfaces of Toby's teeth. It is important to clean the unseen bits too - below the gum margin where plaque can accumulate. She also assessed the health of the teeth; Toby did not need any extractions. After scaling each tooth, they were polished using a dental polisher and special toothpaste to leave a smooth tooth surface. This also helps to prevent the rapid re-attachment of plaque.

Following the procedure Toby recovered well from the anaesthetic. Jazmin was able to take him home the same afternoon. It was important to keep Toby quiet and rested at home for the next 24-48 hrs whilst he recovered fully from the anaesthetic.

Toby back home with his friend Ruby 💜

Now that Toby’s teeth have been cleaned, it is important that he receives home dental care in order to maintain the health of his teeth and gums and prolong the need to repeat a scale and polish in the future.



Regular tooth brushing is the best way to keep the teeth clean and healthy. Special toothbrushes and pet toothpastes are available for dogs and cats. Human toothpaste should never be used. Your vet or nurse can give you plenty of advice on introducing your pet to brushing and will demonstrate how to brush their teeth too.
Ideally puppies and kittens should be introduced to dental hygiene at an early age, however it's never too late to start! With patience and time even older pets can learn to have their teeth brushed.

Our nurses run FREE dental health clinics where you can fully discuss your pet's needs and get recommendations on the best way to care for your pet's teeth. 


There are specially designed foods, oral hygiene gels, toys and chews available to help keep pets’ teeth clean and are suitable methods if brushing has proved unsuccessful.


Regular dental examinations are important. Ideally, twice a year - at your pet's yearly booster vaccination health check and again six months later.











Disclaimer: The contents of the Arden House animal hospital website are for informational purposes only.The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment.Always seek the advice of your veterinary surgeon with any questions you may have regarding your animal’s medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


















No comments:

Post a Comment