Dental Care Is Key to Your Pet’s Health and Happiness
Dentistry is one of the most important things we do for pets. It’s essential care. We want your pet to live the best life, free of painful dental trouble and disease.
Dental disease is extremely common in pets: 85% of adult dogs and cats have some stage of it. Many pets are already showing signs of dental disease by age 3. Small dogs are at especially high risk.
Dental disease is serious and causes suffering. Left untreated, it can have major—even life-threatening—consequences.
We’re here to help! The good news is: You can prevent, manage, and sometimes even reverse dental disease with routine care and professional dentistry.
Dental Disease 101
How does a pet get dental disease?
Just like with people, plaque sticks to the surface of the teeth. Without removal, plaque accumulates and hardens into tartar.
Tartar build-up causes an immune response, which leads to gingivitis. Gingivitis is gum inflammation. Gum inflammation damages this soft tissue around the teeth. Eventually, infection sets in.
There are four stages (or scores) of dental disease, in increasing seriousness and danger…
Stage 1: gingivitis—inflamed gums, still completely reversible
Stage 2: early periodontis—sore gums and bad breath, still reversible
Stage 3: moderate periodontis—infected gums and pain, may be irreversible
Stage 4: advanced periodontis—chronic infection and major damage, irreversible
We can reverse early stages of dental disease by catching it early and removing plaque and tartar at annual dental cleanings.
We certainly want to treat dental disease well before it reaches stages 3 or 4, when the worst damage occurs and dental surgery to extract teeth is often necessary.
What can you do, as a dedicated pet parent, to keep your pet in good dental health? Plenty!
Get your pet’s teeth examined regularly. A routine wellness visit at Eno includes an expert assessment of your pet’s oral health and custom recommendations for dental care.
Keep an eye out. Between visits, peek at your pet’s teeth and gums regularly to monitor for anything strange.
Use your head—toothbrush head, that is. Even weekly teeth brushing can make a difference. The earlier you start, the easier it is to get into the brushing groove. Just remember: Never use human toothpaste. We have special toothpaste just for pets.
Your pet’s diet can also play a central role in good dental health. We recommend several brands of dental diets, backed by decades of scientific research and study, that help prevent plaque and tartar.
Say no to stinky smooches! Bad breath is certainly unpleasant. It’s also often the first and most noticeable sign of trouble.
Sure signs your pet is having dental trouble include…
- Bad breath
- Discolored teeth
- Teeth with tartar build-up, usually a yellow or brown crust
- Loose, broken, or missing teeth
- Sensitivity to touch around the mouth
- Having trouble eating, such as obviously favoring one side of the mouth
- Dropping food out of the mouth
- Bleeding of the gums
Is It Ever Just Bad Breath?
Just like with people, the health of a pet’s teeth affects a pet’s overall health.
As dental disease progresses, pets may suffer root abscesses, mouth ulcers and lesions, gum recession, and tooth loss—or worse.
Bacteria from plaque and tartar enter the bloodstream through your pet’s mouth and can do internal damage to the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and nervous system. Chronic dental disease can lead to heart disease, respiratory issues, digestion issues, kidney problems, and even organ failure.
The American Veterinary Medical Association, or AVMA, says untreated dental disease that becomes severe can lead to death.
Dental disease is so much more than bad breath. That’s why even “just” bad breath requires medical attention.
Did you know?
Dentistry is such a big part of best care we actually refer to it professionally by a different name: “COHAT.”
COHAT stands for Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment. Dentistry is truly comprehensive care that does so much good for so many pets. We’re proud COHATs are a core service at Eno because we love helping pets.
The practice of professional dentistry includes dental cleaning and dental surgery, depending on how advanced (or not) your pet’s dental disease is.
Dental cleaning is a crucial component of the best wellness care. Just like people dentistry, pet dentistry is essential to a healthy, happy life.
During dental cleanings, we gently probe each tooth and around the gums. We expertly scale and polish each tooth and under the gum line. Then we apply a special sealant to protect your pet’s teeth from plaque.
Dental surgery means unhealthy teeth must be extracted. Diseased teeth are definitely painful, and already causing problems for your pet’s gums, jawbone, and internal organs.
Removing diseased teeth is the only way to “cure” dental disease at the later stages. Dental surgery is more intensive than a routine cleaning. With advanced dental disease, dental surgery is best care.
Pets can live healthy, happy, full lives without all their teeth—especially since removing diseased teeth means no more dental pain.
A Note About Anesthesia
The only difference between people dentistry and pet dentistry is we cannot clean or remove your pet’s teeth when he or she is awake. Pet dentistry requires full anesthesia.
Anesthesia always comes with risks. We do everything we can to make dentistry as safe as possible: the best anesthesia drugs; constantly monitoring your pet’s vital signs while under anesthesia; and carefully monitoring your pet while recovering from anesthesia. We also perform pre-operative blood work to ensure your pet is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia, and always place an IV catheter as best practice.
We’re happy to discuss all the details of dentistry. The veterinarian creates a customized treatment plan for each pet who needs dentistry, and we promise to address all your questions and concerns about it.
Why Dental X-Rays?
Your vet can find and diagnose dental disease by physical exam…while serious problems still lurk out of sight: in the tooth roots and under the gums.
We must take dental x-rays because these full-mouth digital images reveal the true health of your pet’s teeth and gums. This is another reason pet dentistry is a full anesthetic procedure.
You might be surprised how many secret painful problems we discover on dental x-rays that are simply invisible to the naked eye: cracked roots, abscesses, lesions, and pockets.
If we find unexpected problems on x-rays, we’ll call you to tell you exactly what’s going on with your pet and what your vet can do to help.
It doesn’t help your pet to have sparkling teeth on the outside and pain on the inside. We want your pet to be healthy and whole.
Cats Need Dental Care, Too
Dental disease applies to cats just as much as dogs. In fact, cats are more susceptible to certain dental problems. You can clean your cat’s teeth! We recommend a finger brush and special seafood-flavored toothpaste. We also offer food sprinkles, water additives, and gels.
Without intervention, dental disease only gets worse and more painful. Please schedule regular dental exams for your kitty, then follow through with any recommended dentistry.
What If My Pet Already Has Advanced Dental Disease?
We can still help!
Advanced dental disease often requires dental surgery, which means extracting diseased teeth. Remember: Dental surgery to remove diseased teeth leads to better health.
We’ve seen so many pets who were lethargic or didn’t want to eat because they were suffering from advanced dental disease. Once they had dental surgery and healed, they became happy, perky pets again.
A Note About Cost
Since pet dentistry requires full anesthesia, it is more extensive—and therefore expensive—than people dentistry.
Routine dental cleanings actually save money in the long run by keeping pets healthier: by helping prevent more serious problems in the future.
Untreated dental disease will only get worse, which means your pet’s pain and problems will only get worse. Then dentistry, and any other medical treatments needed due to complications from dental disease, will be that much more difficult and expensive.
We recommend dentistry not to make money. We recommend dentistry because it’s the best care for your pet. Dentistry is invaluable to health and happiness.
Fresh breath, strong teeth, healthy gums, healthy heart and lungs and kidneys, a life without pain: Dentistry is definitely worth it.