You may have heard that dogs’ mouths are cleaner than human mouths, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need regular dental check-ups! Dogs and cats should get a dental exam about once or twice a year, just like humans.
Why does your pet need a dental check-up?
- Dental disease is the #1 veterinary diagnosis in dogs and cats.
- Pets rarely show signs of dental pain. Without regular dental checkups, your pet’s dental problems could go unnoticed.
- Poor dental care can lead to bad breath, gum disease, and even life-threatening diseases of the liver, heart, or kidney.
- Some breeds of dogs and cats (small-breed dogs, flat-faced cats) are more susceptible to dental problems,
When should I bring my pet in for a dental check-up?
- If it’s been longer than a year since you pet’s last visit. Dogs and cats should get dental check-ups every 6-12 months. Cahaba Valley Animal Clinic in Birmingham is equipped handle your pet’s checkup and cleanings.
- If your pet chews on abrasive substances, such as rocks, tennis balls, or bones. This may make them more susceptible to dental disease.
- If you notice your pet has extremely bad breath or discolored teeth.
- If your pet shows signs of pain while eating, or shows reluctance to eat.
- If you do not practice dental care at home.
Cahaba Valley Animal Clinic uses state-of-the-art equipment and training to help your pet stay healthy and pain-free! That includes:
- Extensive dental training for Cahaba Valley Animal Clinic staff.
- An individual anesthetic protocol created just for your pet.
- Large table area so your pet remains comfortable during procedures.
- Fiber optic high-speed handpiece provides the utmost quality care.
- Scaling and polishing components with LED lights for safe, efficient dental care.
- Dental radiography
What happens in a dental cleaning?
For a dental cleaning, also called a dental prophylaxis or dental prophy, at Cahaba Valley Animal Clinic, you should expect a partial-day hospitalization, and he or she will need to come in with an empty stomach. Your pet is monitored before, during, and after the examination. We start with a physical exam, then we perform bloodwork to ensure the liver and kidneys are healthy enough to clear the body of anesthesia, as well as to ensure there is no underlying anemia or serious infection present.
To ensure a smooth transition to inhalant anesthesia, we provide our patient with an injectable induction agent prior to intubation and inhalant anesthesia. We use the same inhalant anesthesia used in human hospitals. Our anesthesia is not only safe but also easier to control those prior agents used in veterinary medicine. And because body temperature usually drops under anesthesia, we place a warming blanket around your pet.
We use digital oral radiographs in every dental procedure. Just like humans, pet oral health care involves more than just the visible tooth above the gum line. A substantial amount of dental disease occurs below the gum, making digital oral radiography critical in the assessment of overall oral health.
Here are the actual procedures performed in a dental prophy:
- Ultrasonic scaling
Our ultrasonic scaler is the same as used by your dentist. We scale above and below the gum line.
- Oral examination
After the scaling, our dental team will complete a full dental examination of your pet’s mouth. All findings will be recorded for future reference.
- Low-speed polishing
This procedure helps smooth out any imperfections left on the tooth surface after scaling. Polishing also reduces the ability for plaque to stick to the teeth.
- Tooth sealant
We apply a sealant that binds electrostatically to tooth enamel, creating an invisible barrier that helps prevent plaque-forming bacteria from attaching. The sealant works for 2 weeks after application. We recommend Oravet dental chews to help continue to reduce the growth of plaque and tartar.
What is dental radiography?
Dental radiography is a painless, safe, non-invasive way for us to evaluate tooth roots and the surrounding bone. A dental radiograph is simply an X-ray of your pet’s teeth. Dental radiographs can help the Cahaba Valley Animal Clinic doctors identify a variety of problems, such as tooth fractures, tooth root abscesses, tooth impactions, and more. Your pet does have to be sedated for a dental radiograph, so we can properly position them. Because the level of radiation exposure needed to perform radiography is very low, even pregnant females and very young pets can undergo radiography. Dental radiography is an important tool in gathering information about your pet’s teeth and gum health.
How can you practice good dental hygiene at home?
There are some easy ways to keep your pet’s teeth in good shape at home, all year long. The best thing to do is brush your pet’s teeth often with a dog- or cat-specific toothpaste. You can also provide chew toys for your pet. Those made of rubber, rope, or rawhide are great for tooth health. Your pet’s diet can also play a role in mouth health. Dry foods are better than wet foods for tooth health, and some foods are made specifically for dental issues. And, of course, you should bring your pet in for a dental examination yearly!