Raintree Animal Hospital

Dental Care

Raintree Animal Hospital is committed to providing high quality dental services to our clients. We offer convenient dental packages for both dogs and cats. Our packages include an exam, pre-anesthetic blood work, antibiotics, a pedicure, the actual dental and anesthesia, hospital recovery, a fluoride treatment, and fluid therapy.

If you are unsure of whether or not your pet is in need of a dental cleaning, it is important for you to understand the contributing factors and many other aspects of dental disease.

Contributing Factors

One of the main factors determining the amount of tartar buildup is the individual chemistry in the mouth. Some pets need yearly cleanings while others need a cleaning only once every few years.

Diet is another factor that can cause a fair amount of buildup on the teeth. Dry food is not as sticky as canned food; therefore, it is not as likely to adhere to the teeth and tartar buildup with dry food is a much slower process. However, eating normal sized kibble dry food does not remove tartar. Once the tartar has formed, a professional cleaning is necessary.

Other known factors for feline dental disease are the feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus. Severe disease of the teeth and gums can alert the veterinarian to test for these diseases. There are also many other disorders in dogs and cats that can ultimately lead to dental disease. In these cases, it is up to the veterinarian to decide if the problem is limited to the oral cavity (primary dental disease) or has developed as a consequence of another disease (secondary dental disease).

Clinical Signs

Some pet owners wait until their dog or cat has bad breath (halitosis) before bringing them in for a dental cleaning. While that is definitely a good indication that a cleaning is necessary, the dental disease could be pretty severe by this point. Each time your pet comes in for a routine examination, the veterinarian should thoroughly examine the mouth. He or she can then identify any gingivitis and/or tartar buildup on the teeth.

It is at this point that they can inform you and diagnose the severity of dental disease with a grading system of I-IV (IV being the most severe). We recommend that all pets with a grade I-IV dental disease come in for a dental cleaning under anesthesia.

Treatment

Proper cleaning of the teeth requires complete cooperation of the patient so that plaque and tartar can be removed properly. Therefore, anesthesia is required to thoroughly perform the procedure. Once your pet is under anesthesia, there are 12 steps to the dental cleaning process:

  • A physical exam
  • Brushing with chlorhexidine
  • Ultrasonic scaling
  • Hand scaling
  • Periodontal probing
  • Polishing
  • Sub-gingival irrigation
  • Oral exam
  • Fluoride
  • Dental x-rays
  • Charting
  • Preventive home care instructions

Anesthesia

Many owners are concerned with the risk of putting their pet under anesthesia for such a "simple" procedure. While there is always a degree of risk involved with any anesthetic procedure, it is important to understand that delaying proper dental care can ultimately lead to other health problems and shorten the animal's lifespan. As mentioned above, our dental packages include preanesthetic blood work to evaluate your pet's major organ functions prior to the procedure. The blood work is just one of the steps taken to minimize any risk. In addition to a complete physical exam and continuous monitoring of the patient, our hospital uses modern anesthetics that are deemed safe even for senior and patients.

Prognosis

The prognosis of any grade of dental disease is dependent upon many factors. In the early stages of dental disease the problem is more than likely reversible with a cleaning and a course of antibiotics. At the later stages, however, even these precautions may not be enough to restore the mouth to its healthy state. Please note that this is not a reason to avoid a dental cleaning! If the tartar is left on the teeth, there are a number of problems that can arise. These problems include: tartar mechanically pushing the gums away from the roots, allowing the teeth to loosen in their sockets, causing severe infection. Infection in the mouth can ultimately lead to gingivitis, tonsillitis, and pharyngitis. Lastly, if the infection worsens, it can be picked up in the bloodstream and carried to other major organs, like the heart, kidneys, and liver. Once these organs have picked up infection, many problems can arise.

Prevention

There are several preventive measures that can be taken to prolong the buildup of tartar and aid in oral hygiene of your pet.

Seek regular veterinary care and have teeth professionally cleaned when advised. Try to maintain home dental care by brushing teeth regularly and using other recommended oral care products.

Scheduling

If you are thinking your pet is in need of a dental cleaning, we ask that you call to schedule the procedure a few days in advance. Once the appointment is scheduled, we will ask that you withhold your pet's food at 7:00pm the evening before the procedure and take away water on the morning of the procedure. We will have you bring in your pet for a 10-minute admittance with the doctor, in which he or she will grade your pet's dental disease and quote the cost of the cleaning based on that evaluation. The receptionist will then set up a discharge appointment for the late afternoon. Please feel free to call us with any questions or concerns that you may have concerning our dental procedures or any other services we offer.