Did you know that 85% of cats and dogs have periodontal disease by 4 years of age? “Doggy breath” can be the first sign of gum disease. Other signs can include red swollen gums, tartar (yellow or brown accumulation on the tooth surface) or loose teeth. Tartar is caused by a buildup of plaque, which is bacteria mixed with saliva. Tartar blocks oxygen from reaching the teeth, and eventually the periodontal ligament becomes damaged, the bones surrounding the tooth are eaten away, and the gums become sensitive. Eventually the tooth is lost, and if the bone is damaged severely enough, the jaw can actually break. Worse still, if left untreated, the bacteria on the teeth can spread throughout the body, causing pain and harm to internal organs.
Our professional dental cleanings are similar to what a person receives at their dentist’s office, but under full anesthesia. Visible tartar is removed with instruments, more delicate tartar is removed with other instruments, and teeth are scaled ultrasonically. Tartar is also scraped from below the gum line until the roots are smooth again. Periodontal sockets are probed and measured to assess periodontal disease, and professional notes are taken on a dental chart, noting abnormalities on each of the dog’s 42 teeth, or the cat’s 30 teeth. Teeth may be x-rayed, and teeth may be removed if needed. All teeth are polished and treated with fluoride.