veterinary dentistry

Our Veterinary Dentistry Service is a comprehensive solution to ensure optimal oral health for pets. Our experienced veterinary team is skilled in performing dental cleanings, extractions, and surgeries. Using state-of-the-art equipment, we provide painless procedures and preventative care to minimize future dental issues. We prioritize safety, comfort, and the overall well-being of your beloved pets.

Importance of Dental Care in Pets

While it may seem small, your pet’s oral health plays a big role in their overall health, comfort, and happiness. Not only does poor oral health lead to things like pain, discomfort, and tooth loss, but the long-term affects can cause organ damage, further worsening some systemic diseases. However, with proper home care and routine veterinary check ups, many common dental problems can be avoided.

What is a COHAT?

A COHAT (Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment) is an anesthetic procedure where the veterinary team will do a complete oral exam of not only all your pet’s teeth but other soft tissues of the mouth. A complete set of dental radiographs will be taken to assess each tooth and their underlying roots as well as the bone around each tooth. The trained veterinary technician will clean each tooth carefully with an ultrasonic scaler then polish each tooth to ensure they are completely cleaned and smoothed. The team will then preform an exam of each tooth, measuring any pockets along the gum line as well as checking for any lesions on the lips, tongue, or other tissues in the mouth. Careful notes will be taken of any findings. Carefully examining each tooth along with the radiographs help to provide a complete picture of each tooth. Many teeth may only require this cleaning process and can remain healthy in the mouth, however if the tooth is found to be diseased or otherwise impaired it may require extraction. Once the extraction is complete sutures are placed to close the extraction site. The sutures dissolve on their own and will not need to be removed. With proper post procedure home care, the extraction site can be healed in just a few weeks and your pet can return to normal activity.

What happens during a COHAT?

A trained veterinary technician will clean each tooth carefully with an ultrasonic scaler, then polish each tooth to ensure they are completely smooth. The team will then perform an exam of each tooth, measuring any pockets along the gum line as well as checking for any lesions on the lips, tongue, or other tissues in the mouth.  In order to perform a thorough evaluation of the teeth including the roots and surrounding bone, dental radiographs will be taken.  If a tooth is found to be significantly diseased it may require extraction. Once the extraction is complete, sutures are placed to close the extraction site. The sutures dissolve on their own and will not need to be removed. With proper post procedure home care, the extraction site can be healed in just a few weeks and your pet can return to normal activity.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is inflammation of the tissue and bone surrounding the teeth. It is caused by plaque (bacteria) forming on the teeth. Over time the plaque mineralizes and hardens into calculus which can be harder to remove. If caught early, with proper home care and routine yearly oral health checks with your veterinarian, periodontal disease can be reversible and even preventable. However, if left untreated, periodontal disease can cause bad breath, pain, and tooth loss.

By the age of 2, 70-80% of pets will have some sign of periodontal disease.

What are signs of periodontal disease?

The first sign many people notice is bad breath or a foul odor coming from their pet’s mouth. You may also see a buildup of plaque or calculus, red/bleeding gums or even loose teeth. Due to the pain, your pet may also paw at their mouths or have difficulty eating hard foods. If you notice any of these signs, consult with our team immediately.

Why are dental radiographs important?

When looking at your pets’ teeth in the oral cavity you can only see the crown of each tooth, dental radiographs allow you to see the underlying roots of each tooth as well as the bone that each tooth is anchored in. Many common dental problems can hide under the gum line and be undetectable with just a gross examination of the teeth. Pocketing and other bone loss around the teeth may be difficult to assess with probing in the mouth alone due to how close the teeth can be, with radiographs the roots and surrounding bone can be seen making any pocketing more obvious. Radiographs also allow the inside of the tooth to be assessed making it much easier to evaluate the internal health of the tooth.

This allows the veterinarian to get a full and complete picture of your pet’s oral health.

What happens if my pet needs teeth extracted?

It is not uncommon for your veterinarian to recommend your pets tooth be extracted. After the tooth has been fully assessed both visually in the mouth and through radiographs your veterinarian will determine wether the tooth needs to be extracted. If the tooth needs to be extracted the veterinarian will make a small incision in the gums around the tooth. Then the soft tissues can be lifted away exposing the underlying bone around the roots. Some of this bone may be removed to help facilitate the complete removal of the roots. Larger teeth with multiple roots may also be cut into sections making it easier to remove. The roots are then elevated out and the remaining tooth socket is then cleaned of any infection material or debris. All remaining bone is smoothed and the soft tissues are then sutured back into place. The soft tissues will heal in about 10-14 days and the sutures will dissolve on their own. It is important to feed your pet only softened foods (either canned food, or softened kibble) as you do not want anything abrasive to disrupt the sutures during this crucial time. Pain medications as well as antibiotics may be sent home during the healing process, and a recheck appointment is usually made for 1-2 weeks later so your veterinarian can ensure proper healing took place.

Common Dental Problems - feline

Chronic Gingivostomatitis: Feline Chronic Gingivostomatitis is a painful chronic condition characterized by extremely red, inflamed gums and other tissues in the mouth. While this may look similar to periodontal disease in cats, Gingivostomatitis is usually much worse not just affecting the gum line near the teeth, but also the back of the mouth, cheeks, and sometimes tissues of the throat as well. Although the true cause of Gingivostomatitis is unknown, it is considered an immune-mediated disease, where the cat’s own immune system overreacts to the presence of bacteria in the mouth. This reaction from the immune system causes severe inflammation of the tissue. This condition is considered extremely painful often times leading to years of pain and discomfort for the cat. Many have a hard time eating and grooming normally. Other signs include bad breath, excessive drooling, and pawing at the mouth. Treatment usually included extraction of the affected teeth, but in severe cases, extraction of all the teeth may be necessary.

Feline Resorptive Lesions: A painful condition affecting about 60% of cats once they are 6 years old. Feline resorptive lesions are where the body breaks down the normal structures of the tooth often leading to painful lesions on the teeth. The cause of resorptive lesions is unknown and it can happen to any tooth, however the most common teeth are the lower premolars. Signs of resorptive lesions can include difficulty eating, drooling, or pawing at the mouth. In most cases, extraction of the tooth may be necessary to prevent long term pain and discomfort for your pet. Yearly dental health checks, cleanings, and full mouth radiographs can often find these lesions early, before they become extremely painful.

Common Dental Problems – Canine

Broken teeth: It is not uncommon for dogs to break their teeth while chewing on hard toys, bone, antlers, or other hard objects. Each tooth has a living blood supply and nerve within the center (pulp canal). If a tooth breaks enough to where that pulp canal is exposed to the outside the tooth is susceptible to pain and infection. Once this happens it is only a matter of time before the tooth will become infected, possibly causing a painful abscess. At this point the tooth must be either extracted or a root canal therapy with a specialist must be preformed.

Persistent Deciduous Teeth: Persistent deciduous teeth are baby teeth that fail to fall out on their own once your puppy reaches 5-7 months of age. If the baby tooth does not fall out on its own there are a few problems that can occur. Usually, the adult tooth is erupted very close to the baby tooth, this can cause food and other debris to get caught between the baby tooth and its adult neighbor. Overtime this “food trap” can cause the periodontal disease of both the baby and adult tooth to get worse, causing bone loss and pockets to form around the teeth. This can ultimately cause both teeth to need to be extracted. Also, the adult tooth can have trouble erupting into its normal position within the mouth due to the baby tooth taking up the adult tooth’s usual spot, this can lead to misaligned teeth and other tooth on tooth contact that may cause damage to other adult teeth and ultimately pain to your pet. It is recommended that any baby teeth that fail to fall out on their own be extracted as a preventative measure.

Discolored teeth: Teeth that look pink, purple, or sometimes even grey in color can definitely be cause for concern. Discolored teeth could mean several different things from plaque or tarter build up, tooth decay, pulpitis or inflammation of the tooth, or even a dead or non-vial tooth. Radiographs are used to determine the health of each tooth. Dead teeth, also known as non-vital teeth, are where the inside living part of the tooth dies. Usually caused by trauma to the tooth itself or trauma to the mouth or face. If left untreated these dead teeth can abscess causing further pain and bone loss. It is usually recommended that any non vital teeth be extracted to prevent further pain and discomfort. It is important to see your veterinarian if you notice any discoloration to your pets teeth.

Home Care

With proper home care you can prevent many common dental problems that pets may experience. Periodontal disease is the most common oral problem that pets will face, leading to bad breath and tooth loss. daily brushing can help prevent periodontal disease from progressing by helping to prevent the buildup of plaque and tarter. It is important to start slow at first when starting to brush your pets teeth at home. The proper supplies are also important, a soft bristle toothbrush or finger brush and a pet safe toothpaste. Start by getting your pet used to having their face and mouth touched, gently rubbing your finger on their gums and teeth for a few seconds at a time. Then progressing to a toothbrush or finger brush once your pet becomes more comfortable. It is important to be patient with your pet as it may take several weeks or even months until they are comfortable with their mouth being handled and with the toothbrush. Starting at a younger age may also help your pet tolerate brushing their teeth more often. Always reward with your pet’s favorite treat or toy once a brushing session is complete. Specially formulated dental diets, dental treats, water additives, oral wipes and gels can also be used along with brushing to help prevent plaque and tarter build up, see VOHC list of accepted dental products.

Home Care

With proper home care you can prevent many common dental problems that pets may experience. Periodontal disease is the most common oral problem that pets will face, leading to bad breath and tooth loss. daily brushing can help prevent periodontal disease from progressing by helping to prevent the buildup of plaque and tarter. It is important to start slow at first when starting to brush your pets teeth at home. The proper supplies are also important, a soft bristle toothbrush or finger brush and a pet safe toothpaste. Start by getting your pet used to having their face and mouth touched, gently rubbing your finger on their gums and teeth for a few seconds at a time. Then progressing to a toothbrush or finger brush once your pet becomes more comfortable. It is important to be patient with your pet as it may take several weeks or even months until they are comfortable with their mouth being handled and with the toothbrush. Starting at a younger age may also help your pet tolerate brushing their teeth more often. Always reward with your pet’s favorite treat or toy once a brushing session is complete. Specially formulated dental diets, dental treats, water additives, oral wipes and gels can also be used along with brushing to help prevent plaque and tarter build up, see VOHC list of accepted dental products.