My veterinarian wants to clean my dog's teeth. What exactly will she do during the procedure?
A good dental prophylaxis or cleaning must be performed under general anesthesia with all proper precautions and procedures as with any surgery. This is required to access all surfaces of the teeth and protect your pet's airway. We will first examine your pet's teeth and evaluate each tooth for surface deficits, fractures, and missing teeth. All teeth are checked for pocketing and all information is recorded on the dental chart. The teeth are then cleaned above and below the gumline with an ultrasonic scaler. Dental x-rays are taken of the teeth and are examined to look for abscess, resorptive lesions, impacted teeth, bone loss, etc. Any problems are addressed at this time and may include treatment of periodontal pocketing, extraction of teeth or use of a bone regeneration compound. The teeth are then polished and a fluoride gel is applied. A sealant may be applied as well to deter tartar in the future. It is important that the dental procedure be performed properly in accordance with AAHA Dental Care Guidelines, addressing problems both above and below the gumline. Dental x-rays are essential to provide this level of care. For more information, please call our office.
Why does my pet need dental x-rays?
Dental x-rays are essential to diagnosis and treatment of dental disease. X-rays allow us to examine the entire tooth both above and below the gumline. Teeth that may look perfectly normal to the eye can have significant problems identified only by x-ray. Abscesses or pockets of infection may be missed because the animal cannot communicate that he is painful with his mouth. Impacted teeth, retained roots, bone loss from periodontal disease or cancer are examples of problems identified only by x-ray. We have so often heard from patients how their pet who hasn't played with a ball in years, began to play again once the abscessed teeth were extracted and they were finally free from pain. Dental pain in animals can be subtle, but very real. We can only treat the problem if we can see the problem.
Do cats have any dental problems?
Feline oral resorptive lesions (FORL, cavities, or cervical neck lesions) are a very common problem in cats over 4 years of age. 50% of cats have one or more resorptive lesions. The teeth affected by resorptive lesions are characterized by erosion of the tooth. FORL can present in different stages (1-4) from just an enamel deficit to pathology in the root canal. Pathology can occur above or below the gumline, with erosion of the crown leaving only root fragments. Symptoms can include salivation, oral bleeding, difficulty eating, and hiding. A majority of cats may not show any obvious signs. Most FORL can only be identified by dental x-ray. It is important to realize that resorptive lesions are progressive and procedures such as filling the deficit like a cavity will not stop the process of the disease. Treatment of choice is extraction of the affected teeth.
My dog has a broken tooth. Is this a problem?
Fractured or broken teeth can be a serious problem. The first thing your veterinarian must determine is if the fracture is into the root canal (red, brown, or black spot in the middle of the tooth's surface) or just superficial. Usually this can be determined with an examination, but dental x-rays may be necessary to detect subtle pulp exposure. Once the root canal has been exposed, bacteria have a gateway into the tooth and an abscess or infection can result. Treatment of fractured teeth used to involve only extractions, but many of these teeth can be saved with endodonic procedures. Endodonic procedures, such as a root canal, are preferred because they preserve the function of the tooth. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential. Extraction of the affected tooth may be necessary if an abscess has already formed. Fractured teeth with no treatment will become a focus of infection and a source of constant pain.