Dentistry

We provide a thorough approach to your pet’s dental health

A healthy mouth means more than just a teeth cleaning. Our dental cleaning and oral health assessments consist of a twelve step process to clean all of your pet’s teeth above and below the gum line. At discharge, we provide before and after photos and a detailed dental chart. We will discuss the findings of the dental assessment and create a plan together for your pet’s oral care. Below is a summary of Family Pet Hospital’s dental services, a list of frequently asked questions, and some advice on how to care for your pet’s teeth.

Dental Services we offer

  • Dental cleaning and oral health assessments
  • Full mouth digital dental radiology
  • Periodontal therapy
  • Oral surgery and extraction of diseased or painful teeth
  • Tailored anesthetic plans with dedicated nurse anesthetist

Pet Dental Care Frequently Asked Questions FAQ

Your pet should have his or her teeth checked every six to twelve months. At this time, your doctor will look for tartar and periodontal disease. A dental cleaning and oral health assessment may be recommended if evidence of periodontal disease is noted.

We go well beyond a typical “dental” or “teeth cleaning”. There are 12 steps to cleaning and properly assessing your pet’s mouth.

    1. We start with a physical and initial oral exam – The veterinarian will perform an exam on your dog or cat prior to any anesthetic procedure to ensure the physical health of your pet has not changed since his or her last exam. This allows your doctor to create an individualized anesthesia protocol. She will also examine your pet’s mouth and make initial observations that a veterinary nurse will record on the dental chart.
    2. Individualized anesthesia – All of our dental cleanings include full anesthesia. The sedation and anesthesia is tailored to your individual pet and his or her needs on that day. Anesthesia is required for your pet’s safety because there is a lot of water used when removing tartar. Anesthesia allows for your pet’s throat and lungs to be protected, and it keeps your pet comfortable during the cleaning, gum probing, and x-ray taking.
    3. Use of intravenous fluids – At Family Pet Hospital, we place an intravenous catheter and administer IV fluids to any pet going under anesthesia. Intravenous fluids help keep your pet hydrated and maintain blood pressure throughout the anesthetic procedure.
    4. Tartar removal ABOVE the gum line – This is the tartar that you see when you lift your pet’s lip. We use a high tech ultrasonic scaler to remove this mineralized bacteria from your pet’s teeth. While this is the part that is easiest to see from the before and after pictures, it is the part that affects your pet’s health the least! This is because the tartar here is not in contact with the bloodstream.
    5. Tartar removal BELOW the gum line – Did you know that 80% of oral disease is below the gumline where we cannot see it with just our eyes? This is the most important step and is often neglected. It is, however, necessary because bacteria below the gum line can enter the bloodstream and cause other health problems.
    6. Polishing – After removing tartar, we polish all of your pet’s teeth using a prophy paste to smooth any areas that have been scaled. This helps prevent new bacteria and tartar from adhering to the teeth after tartar has been removed.
    7. Full mouth dental x-rays – Our dental cleaning and assessment packages include full mouth x-rays using digital radiology specifically designed for dentistry. This allows your doctor to identify problems that would otherwise be missed without x-rays.
    8. Complete oral exam – Your doctor will thoroughly examine all of your pet’s teeth and assess, evaluate, and analyze the dental x-rays.
    9. Charting – Any observations made during your pet’s dental cleaning and assessment will be recorded by a veterinary nurse on a dental chart and will be included in your pet’s medical file. Your doctor will also review your pet’s dental chart with you at the time of his or her discharge. Charting allows your doctor to track changes that occur throughout your pet’s life.
    10. Before and after pictures and a periodontal disease treatment plan – We think you will be impressed by the difference dental care makes.
    11. Two week post-dental exam – We check how your pet’s teeth and mouth are doing after the dental cleaning and oral health assessment.
    12. Home care – At the Post-Dental Exam, we will get your pet started in the right direction with a full month of oral home care.

Plaque and tartar can accumulate on our pet’s teeth and gums, leading to serious gum disease.  Proper dental hygiene at home and regular dental checkups are crucial to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.

Just as it happens in humans, bacteria and organic matter accumulate on the teeth covering the surface and creating something called plaque. If not removed from the teeth through regular mechanical cleaning, plaque can accumulate and become tartar which is denser and more difficult to remove and may lead to periodontal or gum disease.

Periodontal or gum disease is the most common health problem diagnosed in pets. According to The American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC), 70% of dogs and cats have some degree of periodontal disease by the age of three years.  Periodontal disease has been linked to several health problems such as diabetes mellitus and increased severity of diabetic complications. Oral disease is also related to renal, hepatic, and cardiac disease.

The key to successful dental care is consistency. Ideally, pet’s teeth should be brushed twice daily. However, this can be challenging if your pet is not used to the process. If you do not have the time to brush your pet’s teeth daily, you can using teeth wipes on busy days to prevent plaque from building up.

Signs of Periodontal Disease

  • Bad breath
  • Dropping food from the mouth
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Loss of appetite and loss of weight
  • Loose teeth
  • Teeth that are discolored
  • Teeth that are covered in tartar
  • Pain when you touch your pet’s mouth
  • Drooling

There are many options for reducing tartar, bad breath and periodontal disease in pets. For both dogs and cats, tooth brushing is ideal.

  1. Tooth brushing
    1. Tooth brushing should be initiated at a young age to give your pet time to become used to oral manipulation. Before a toothbrush is introduced, try giving gum massages, so they have the experience of their mouth being manipulated. You may need to offer dog or cat toothpaste alone before you start brushing your pet’s teeth.
    2. It is essential that you use toothpaste specially created for dogs because human toothpaste may cause stomach upset in dogs. The ideal toothbrush should have soft angled bristles that will allow you to reach all teeth.
    3. How To Brush Your Pet’s Teeth
      1. Apply the toothpaste deep into the brush so that the toothpaste will stay in contact with the teeth and gums as long as possible.
      2. Carefully lift your pet’s lip.
      3. Place the bristles at a 45-degree angle toward the union between the gum and the teeth.
      4. While pressing lightly, use circular strokes focusing on the gum line (the union between the teeth and gums). Make sure that you cover all the teeth, but focus on the upper teeth and back teeth in dogs.
      5. Praise your dog and offer treats during the process to reward him/her.
  2. Dental Wipes or Q-Tip
    1. For dogs or cats that do not tolerate brushing, dental wipes or Q-tips also can be used.
    2. How To Clean Your Pet’s Teeth Using Dental Wipes or Q-tip
      1. Wrap the dental wipe around your finger.
      2. Carefully lift your pet’s lip.
      3. Use a circular motion to clean your pet’s mouth focusing on the gum line. Make sure that you cover all the teeth.
      4. Alternatively, you can use a Q-tip to remove plaque from the gum line. This technique can be particularly useful in cats.

Please call or stop by the front desk and discuss scheduling with one of our client care professionals today!

  • Office staff and Dr. Abernathy are always friendly. Procedures and rationale are thoroughly explained. The best veterinary experience I have had with my dog is at Family Pet!!”

    Marl K in Longmont
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