Prevention is a cost-saving and life-improving approach to your pet’s long-term good health. To that end, every year, during the entire month FEBRUARY, we focus on dental care at Cave Spring Animal Hospital. We devote our efforts to getting your pets on a regular routine of dental care and during the month of February, we apply a DENTAL DISCOUNT to all fully paid, complete dental appointments. Don’t wait until a problem arises. Call 706.381.2500 to schedule an appointment for a dental checkup and cleaning now.
“Our Goal is to Save Teeth, Not Pull Them.”
Dental Care (Oral Hygiene)
Oral hygiene in pets is just as important as it is in humans, but often times overlooked, part of your pet’s regular health program. Some potentially serious health problems can start with a minor tooth or gum problem. When left uncleaned for long periods, plaque accumulates on teeth, developing into mineralized tartar (dental calculus). This tartar harbors bacteria, which eventually results in infection of the gums and underlying bone (periodontal disease). The bacterium grows on neglected, irritated gums and can be carried through the bloodstream, causing life-threatening infections in other parts of the body including the heart, liver, and kidneys.
The immediate consequences of periodontal disease include oral pain, bleeding, and tooth loss. Since our pets can not tell us, we have to pay attention and recognize the irritations or infections early. Indications of problems can include bad breath, plaque and tartar formation, resistant to open the mouth, red, irritated or recessed gums, loose or missing teeth, drooling or difficulty chewing. Recurring infections can lead to urinary tract problems as well. A regular routine of keeping the teeth clean and healthy at all times is the best way to head off problems before they start.
Surgical Tooth Extraction
This procedure is performed when a canine, premolar, or molar is unable to be properly removed by manipulation alone. In this procedure, a “flap” is made in the gum tissue and the bone overlying the tooth root is removed to allow complete extraction. This is often indicated in cats that have resorption of the tooth roots.
Anytime your pet requires sutures in the gum tissue, you must NOT brush their teeth for at least seven (7) days. Additionally, if the gum is sutured back in place, your pet cannot eat hard food or have access to any chew toys for a minimum of seven (7) days. Moistening your pet’s regular dry food with warm water is recommended to avoid introducing any new foods that may contribute to unwanted vomiting and diarrhea.
If your pet has received a Clindoral application, you must NOT brush the teeth for 3 weeks nor allow them to chew bones, rawhide, Dentabones, Nyla-bones, chew ropes, pigs ears, etc. To do so will result in a breakdown of the treatment, which is designed to aid in the reattachment of the gingiva to the tooth! Pets receiving Clindoral should be rechecked in 3 weeks to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment.
Simple Tooth Extraction
This is a procedure when an incisor (any of the front teeth back to the canines) is removed or when any other tooth is very loose and requires minimal manipulation for extraction.
This is a procedure, usually involving canines, premolars, and molars, requiring that the tooth be “sectioned” for removal, or extraction requiring extensive manipulation for removal.
Prior to your pet’s dental, we perform pre-anesthetic blood testing to evaluate and establish the health your pet’s internal organs (liver, kidneys, etc. plus a complete blood count) for diseases which are often not apparent during a routine physical exam. These tests may also indicate other medical problems linked to a dental disease. Because anesthesia is required for dentistry in our pets, pre-testing is done to ensure that their bodies will properly metabolize the anesthetic agent. As with any anesthetic procedure, there can always be a risk of complications. Pre-testing is strongly emphasized in animals over 7 years of age. However, abnormalities can often be indicated in all age ranges.
Estimates will be provided during the initial exam visit. Our veterinary staff will gladly answer any further questions.
Dental Procedures – Stages of Dental Cleaning
- Dental Cleaning.
The first step is a dental cleaning or scraping off tartar from the tooth. This procedure varies depending on the amount of buildup of material on the tooth itself. At this stage, the visible part of the tooth or the tooth crown is cleaned as well as the important area underneath the gum margins, where there is a small gap between the tooth and the gum line that collects debris.
- Dental Examination
After the teeth have been cleaned, they are examined. The teeth will be evaluated identifying any fractures, wear patterns, or signs of dental disease involving the tooth itself. The gum tissue will also be examined for the presence of gingivitis or periodontal disease. Included in this exam is an evaluation of any subgingival pockets; these are areas where space has developed around the tooth beneath the gum line. Depending on the severity of these pockets, a medication may be applied which will form a matrix between the tooth and the gum and stimulate reattachment to the tooth. In severe cases, this is not a successful treatment and extraction of the involved tooth is indicated.
- Dental Extractions
Next any necessary dental extractions or surgical procedures will be performed. Before this step, we attempt to contact the pet’s owner for approval of any procedures other than simple or complex extractions. If no contact is made, no further procedures will be performed at that time and we will arrange for any additional treatments at a future date.
Finally, the teeth are polished to remove any remaining stain.