More than 85% of dogs and cats over the age of 3 have periodontal disease (bad breath, red gums, receding gum line, bone loss, tooth root exposure, and loose teeth). Periodontal disease is uncomfortable and dangerous to your pet's health. Accordingly, our oral care focus is patient comfort, whole body health and quality of life. Professional cleaning and scalings play a critical role in helping us accomplish this goal.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease begins with plaque formation. Plaque is an invisible adhesive "biofilm" of mucin, dead epithelial cells and bacteria. Plaque forms every day and without daily removal accumulates to form calculus, a very hard brown crust that won't brush off. Calculus irritates the gums, alters the chemistry of the tooth/gum interface, and allows bacteria to flourish beneath the gum line. This damages the tooth's surrounding bone, especially the periodontal ligament (the tooth's attachment tissue), eventually resulting in a tooth that is mobile and painful. Equally concerning is the affect this advanced stage of dental disease can have on other organ systems in the body (most commonly heart, liver, and kidneys). For a more detailed explanation, see the Periodontal Disease series below.
What can I do to prevent periodontal disease?
Daily home brushing is the cornerstone of great oral care. There is simply no substitue for daily plaque removal. This one thing, more than any other will help the most. Additionally, pets that do not require a special diet for any other reason do benefit from being exclusively fed a dental diet formulated to slow calculus formation. Let us know if you would like more information on these interesting diets or click the link above entitled "Pets Need Dental Care, Too". Once calculus has formed (the brown material) and gingivitis has occurred (red gums just above the tooth), home care can no longer successfully prevent (or treat) periodontal disease. A professional cleaning and scaling is needed at that point to safely and meticulously remove the plaque and calculus from above and below the gum line.
I am unable to brush my pets teeth daily and he won't eat those diets, now what?
We can help you prevent your pet from experiencing the discomfort of dental disease by routinely performing a professional cleaning and scaling. Many owners schedule these annually. We can help you decide what would be right for your pet and you.
I know my pet needs a professional cleaning and scaling. Is it expensive?
Preventing periodontal disease is much cheaper than treating it. The best way to help prevent periodontal disease is to routinely and thoroughly scale below the gum line and our patients require general anesthesia to accomplish this safely. However, you will find that other than this anesthetic cost, our professional cleaning and scaling is priced similarly to your dentist's office. Call us, or schedule a dental consultation, to find out how we've made the dental care your pet needs affordable.
What exactly do you do?
At Cobblestone Veterinary Care, every professional cleaning and scaling includes safe anesthesia practices (pre-anesthetic blood work, IV fluid support, and full electronic monitoring), a complete oral exam, full oral x-rays, measuring the gum pocket surrounding every tooth, scaling each tooth surface above and below the gum, and a thorough polish. Antibiotics or anti-inflammatories may be recommended afterward on an individual basis.
Our dental practice, equipped with digital dental x-ray, makes complete oral care possible.
Our iM3 elite scaler and polisher, an industry leading machine, safely cleans your pet's teeth.
During stage 1 plaque accumulates and hardens into calculus. You will see red gums and notice bad breath. At this point, no loss of tooth attachment tissue has occurred and the disease is completely reversible following a professional cleaning and scaling. We focus strongly on your pet's oral health at this exact stage to prevent periodontal disease from progressing. Treating the disease at this stage not only spares your pet the discomfort of more advanced disease, but can significantly reduce your pet care costs in the future.
You will notice swollen gums and gum recession during stage 2. Bacteria have infected the gums and surrounding bony tissues and you may see some bleeding. There is up to 25% loss of attachment tissues. A professional cleaning and scaling is needed right away to halt the disease process. It's important to note that gum recession is irreversible and any current damage is permanent, but with intervention now we may be able to prevent future tooth loss.
Stage 3 is serious oral disease. Note the significant gum recession in the photo to the left. At this point, tooth roots may be exposed and there is up to 50% loss of attachment tissues. The affected teeth are mobile and uncomfortable. A professional cleaning and scaling is indicated immediately in order to save as many mildly affected teeth as possible. The severely affected teeth will likely need extraction.
At this stage you may see blood and pus surrounding the tooth. There is over 50% loss of attachment tissues and teeth may be falling out. Advanced periodontitis is a concern beyond the mouth. Bacteria enter the blood stream through the compromised oral tissues, showering the liver, kidneys and heart valves. Systemic health wanes and the pet's life may be shortened.
If you are concerned about your pet's mouth, call to schedule an examination. Don't worry, let's just start there.