Just like us, pets can develop problems with their teeth. We always assess the teeth during routine veterinary examination, however not everything can be seen simply by looking from the outside. Before every dental procedure we take a full set of dental radiographs which give us detailed images of not only the tooth but also its root, this provides us with lots of information about what’s going on below the gum line. The image on the right shows two normal teeth sitting to the right of the remnants of a previously resorbed tooth; if you look closely you can see the ‘ghosting’ effect of the roots!
The image on the left shows one tooth which has fractured just below the gum line.
We often see pets brought in because they have stopped eating, are salivating or pawing at their mouths. If it is tooth related in most cases their teeth have been causing them issues or pain for some time prior to these symptoms. It is good to get into the routine of brushing your pets’ teeth and checking them over as best you can on a regular basis.
Routine dental examination
When performing a routine examination of teeth peridontal disease is graded as shown below:
- 0: perfect teeth
- 1: mild gum inflammation/tartar
- 2: moderate gingivitis/tartar
- 3: gum recession and damage to tooth socket
- 4: loosening of teeth and infection of roots
- 5: as above with obvious pus and bone infection.
|Grade 0||Grade 1||Grade 2|
|Grade 3||Grade 4||Grade 5|
Grades 1 and possibly 2 are usually reversible with a home management program. This would include brushing with a finger brush/toothbrush and an enzymatic tooth paste (not human toothpaste as the flouride can damage pets’ teeth) or feeding Royal Canin Dental Prescription diet which is a food proven to physically help clean the teeth. In some cases of grade 2 peridontal disease and above dentistry is the only solution.
Patients are anaesthetised and the tartar is physically removed. A full set of radiographs will be taken at this point and any teeth removed if necessary. Healthy teeth are scaled with an ultrasonic scaler and finally polished to remove the microscopic tartar which would allow rapid build up of new plaque. The tooth enamel is left smooth after this process to help inhibit subsequent plaque/tartar accumulation. But it is important to note that this will not completely stop the build from recurring therefore it is important that good aftercare be undertaken to help keep teeth clean and healthy.
Post dental work
Following dentistry we recommend that a soft food is fed as a recovery diet and then a home care plan initiated to minimize future reoccurrence.
In addition to tartar, teeth can suffer fractures from trauma, caries (holes) or in the case of cats, orthodontic resorptive lesions (a hole in the enamel penetrating through to the sensitive middle).
Adolescent animals generally lose their deciduous or temporary teeth by six months of age but occasionally these remain and can weaken the permanent teeth so removal is advisable.