The inside of a pet's mouth being examined by a vet

Dental Care

Pet Dental Care

No matter your pet’s species, breed, or age, dental health is one of the most important parts of their overall health. Early detection and prevention are vital to keeping their mouth — and body — healthy for many years to come. By regularly brushing your pet’s teeth at home and scheduling veterinarian dental cleanings at least once per year, you can help prevent everything from tartar buildup and bad breath to severe cases of periodontal disease.

Signs Your Pet Needs a Dental

All pets can receive — and benefit from — dental care. Along with scheduling annual visits, you can look for specific signs that your pet might need dental care sooner rather than later. These symptoms include:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Irritability
  • Lethargy
  • Swelling in areas around the mouth
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Pain in or around the mouth
  • Abnormal chewing
  • Bad breath
  • Discolored teeth
  • Broken or loose teeth
  • Extra teeth
  • Palate defects
  • Drooling

Your pet may have dental problems even if they show no symptoms. Many animals can hide their pain, and you won’t be able to see the extent of their dental disease just by looking at them in most cases.

Pet Periodontal (Dental) Disease

Pets over 3 years old that haven’t received regular dental care are likely to have some degree of dental disease. Plaque buildup can lead to tartar above and below the gums. Left untreated, this condition can progress to periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is the most common dental condition in dogs and cats. It causes symptoms like bad breath, tenderness, red and swollen gums, and loose teeth. It can also lead to inflammation and chronic pain, potentially contributing to health problems in other areas of the body like the kidneys or heart muscles.

First, an Oral Exam

During an oral exam, a veterinarian looks for any signs of abnormality or ill health. Veterinarians are trained to spot many different symptoms, including:

  • Overbite, underbite, malocclusion, and teeth that don’t fit together
  • Gingivitis and periodontal disease
  • Facial swelling
  • Tartar buildup
  • Fractured or broken teeth
  • Cavities
  • Abscesses

Our talented veterinarians will develop a customized plan of prevention or treatment based on what is found during the dental exam at your next visit.

Next, a Dental Procedure

If dental issues are found in your pet’s mouth, our veterinarians will explain the situation to you and recommend the appropriate dental procedure.

Our veterinarians use a comprehensive 6-step protocol when performing a standard pet dental treatment and adhere to AAHA guidelines. This protocol can be amended depending upon factors including preexisting medical conditions or based on information gleaned during the examination itself. However, for reference, our pet dental treatment protocol includes:

  1. General anesthesia, which is necessary in all cases for us to do a thorough dental examination and professional cleaning. We use only the safest anesthesia protocols and human-quality products. Your pet will be continually monitored during the entire procedure and post-procedure for the safest and most comfortable experience.
  2. A complete dental exam that includes dental x-rays will be performed before we begin any dental procedure. Dental radiology allows our veterinarians to view the internal anatomy of the teeth, including the roots and surrounding bone. A thorough dental chart is used to record the dental health of your pet, and any procedures done during the dental cleaning.
  3. Ultrasonic and hand scaling to remove plaque and tartar above and below the gum line. A thorough scaling below the gum line is critical to the success of any dental cleaning, as this is where illness-causing bacteria hide.
  4. Polishing to smooth the surface of the teeth after scaling, making them resistant to additional plaque formation.
  5. Flushing to remove dislodge tartar, plaque, and bacteria from the pet’s mouth.
  6. If it is determined that an infected tooth requires extraction, or if there is a problem with the gums that must be addressed, then and only then will oral surgery be recommended.

Oral Surgery for Pets

If oral surgery is necessary, it can provide your pet with a new lease on life. In these cases, your pet is dealing with significant pain and is compensating for it in a variety of ways. Our veterinary staff can resolve a variety of oral disorders, including:

  • Gingival surgery – including tumor removal and removal of excessive gum tissue secondary to periodontal disease.
  • Extensive extractions of impacted or damaged teeth
  • Oral tumor removal

Importance of Pet Dental Care & Exams

  • Prevent Dental Disease: Regular dental care and examinations significantly diminish the likelihood of dental issues in your pet, ensuring their oral health remains optimal.
  • Safeguard Internal Organs: By addressing dental disease promptly, you mitigate the risk of associated internal organ damage, promoting overall well-being for your furry companion.
  • Fresher Breath: Engaging in consistent dental care helps maintain your pet’s breath freshness, fostering a more pleasant experience for both you and your pet.
  • Pain-Free Oral Health: Regular examinations and care routines ensure your pet is free from oral pain, enhancing their overall comfort and quality of life.
  • Preserve Tooth Integrity: Through preventative measures and timely interventions, you safegaurd your pet’s teeth, keeping them intact and functional for years to come.

Exotic Pets Need Dental Care, Too

Exotic pets, like other animals, require dental care to maintain their overall health. Just like cats and dogs, many exotic pets, including rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, reptiles, and small mammals, can suffer from dental problems like overgrown teeth, malocclusion (misalignment), tooth fractures, or periodontal disease. These issues can significantly impact their ability to eat, cause pain, and lead to systemic health problems if left untreated.

For example, rodents like guinea pigs and rabbits have continuously growing teeth that need proper wear and alignment. If their diet lacks proper chewing materials or if their teeth don’t meet correctly, it can result in overgrown teeth that may pierce the mouth or prevent them from eating.

Reptiles can develop dental problems, especially if their diet doesn’t provide enough calcium and other essential nutrients. Improper diet can lead to metabolic bone disease, impacting jaw strength and tooth health.

Regular dental check-ups and appropriate dental care are essential for exotic pets. Our veterinarians specializing in exotic animal care can conduct dental examinations, trim overgrown teeth, perform extractions if necessary, and provide guidance on proper diet and chew toys to promote good dental health.

Pet owners should also be observant for signs of dental issues, such as reduced appetite, drooling, pawing at the mouth, weight loss, or changes in behavior. Early detection and timely intervention are crucial in preventing severe dental problems in exotic pets and ensuring their overall well-being.

Schedule a Dental Cleaning Today

It’s never too early or too late to give your pet the dental care they need to live a healthy and happy life. Ready to support your pet’s oral and overall health? Call Vida Veterinary Care – Denver at (303) 757-5638 for more information and to schedule a dental cleaning.

What Our Clients Are Saying

My 14 year old Pomeranian has had pretty rough dental disease and we weren’t sure he would make it through surgery. Last week when we woke up my sweet little mans mouth was extremely swollen and sensitive and he refused to eat his food. When he did eat he yelped in pain. I called 11 different urgent care vets and clinics that day as well as our primary care; all of which gave me 4 week delays for appointments, even when I explained the urgency. I called Vida as a last resort and they lucky had a cancelation and got me in within the hour. They called our primary vet and got all his records before we showed up and treated us with the utmost professionalism and kindness. After receiving antibiotics and pain medication we set up an appointment for dental surgery a week later. By the time the surgery rolled around, my sweet man was looking so much better due to the medicine. He had 14 teeth pulled and his remaining teeth treated for the dental disease. They gave us all the necessary details for recovery at pick up and called again today (a day after surgery) just to check in on him. While he is extremely sore from the extractions, I fully believe they treated him with such sweet care and have provided the necessary medication to help with recovery. They also set up a follow up appointment at no charge to us to check in on his healing from the extractions. I am so thankful they were willing to fit us in and I am planning to change our primary vet to them. They had so many sweet things to say about Paulie and we couldn’t be more thankful.

J. S.