We here at New Hope Animal Hospital believe that taking care of your pet's dental health needs is one of the single most effective ways to protect his overall health. Our Durham and Chapel Hill vets, Dr. Soren Windram and Dr. Christine Bush offer dental cleanings and examinations for cats and dogs. Here are a few of the questions we receive from pet owners about our teeth cleaning services.
What Are the Benefits of Pet Dental Cleanings?
Dental cleaning is just as important to your pet as it is to any human. Removing plaque and bacteria from the mouth helps to protect their health long term. It helps to ensure your animal’s overall wellbeing is maintained. Pet, unlike humans, use their mouths for many tasks. That requires strong, healthy teeth and healthy gums. The only way to ensure this is through routine dental exams and cleanings.
How Often Should My Pet Receive a Dental Cleaning?
Like humans, pets should have their teeth brushed at least once a day. Your veterinarian can help you to learn how to do this at home. However, we also recommend bringing your pet in for a dental cleaning from a professional at least one time a year. Dog teeth cleaning and cat teeth cleaning should be scheduled alongside your pet’s wellness exams, but they may need care more frequently if the pet has a history of dental problems.
What Are Common Signs of Pet Dental Problems?
Pets can’t tell you what’s wrong, but if you take a closer look, you’ll notice concerns with your pet’s dental health. Signs of a problem indicating the need for a visit to the pet dentist include:
- A pet that doesn’t want to eat or no longer wants to eat the same types of foods; for example, the pet avoids harder foods
- The pet’s breath has worsened or is strong
- Significant or increasing drooling
- Yellow or brown tartar buildup along the pet’s gum line
- Gums that are red, swollen, inflamed or bleeding
- A pet that paws at his or her mouth
What Should My Pet & I Expect from a Dental Exam?
When you bring your pet in for a dental exam, we’ll likely take x-rays (depending on the pet’s last exam). We’ll take a look at your pet’s teeth as closely as possible. For a deep dental cleaning, we may need to use sedation to help your pet to remain relaxed. The process can take between 45 and 75 minutes to complete, or if there is a need for extraction, as long as several hours.
Why Does My Pet Need Oral Health Care?
Good question! Many people do not fully understand the need for pet dental care. Pets, just like people, develop plaque and tartar build-up on their teeth and can suffer from cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. Tooth loss and breakage of the teeth are also concerns. Imagine what would happen inside your mouth if you went your whole life without brushing or flossing your teeth -- that is what happens when your pet does not receive proper oral health care.
The consequences of poor oral hygiene can be devastating for pets. Decayed, broken, or lost teeth can make it hard for pets to eat and can cause them pain. Gum disease and oral infections can spread to the heart and other organs, resulting in serious illness and death. As you can see, pet dental hygiene is important.
What happens during a pet dental check-up and cleaning?
During your pet’s dental check-up and cleaning, our veterinarian will examine your pet’s teeth and gums looking for how any abnormalities, infections, and decay. Then, our veterinarian will give your pet a small dose of anesthesia before thoroughly scraping the plaque and tartar from your pet’s teeth and below the gumline. After the cleaning, your pet’s teeth will be polished to make the surfaces of the teeth more slippery. This helps reduce the amount of food particles that stick to your pet’s teeth
I’m not comfortable with my pet being anesthetized. Do you have to give my dog or cat
anesthesia to perform a teeth cleaning?
It is safer and less painful for your pet to be sedated during the dental cleaning. Scraping below the gum line is very uncomfortable. By giving your pet a small dose of anesthesia, our veterinarian can thoroughly clean your pet’s teeth without causing your pet pain and anxiety. While your pet is under sedation, we monitor all vital signs to ensure the well-being of your pet.
How Should I Care for My Pet's Teeth at Home?
Start by brushing your pet's teeth at home. Your pet may need some time to get used to the idea of having his teeth brushed, but most pets come to enjoy it. Ask our vets for tips on how to brush your pet's teeth. If your pet absolutely will not allow his teeth to be brushed, try water additives, dental treats, or a dental food. Home pet dental care can save you money and add years to your pet's life. You need only invest a few minutes a day into caring for your pet's teeth at home.
How Often Does My Pet Need Veterinary Pet Dental Care?
Regular pet dental cleanings remove plaque and tartar before it can cause serious problems. Your pet should receive a dental cleaning, under anesthesia, at least once a year. We prefer to see pets, especially senior pets, in our office for a dental examination and cleaning every six months.
What are the symptoms of dental disease in pets?
If your pet is over the age of three and has never had a professional dental cleaning, there is a good chance your pet has the beginnings of gingivitis. During the early stages of gingivitis and periodontal disease, there are no symptoms and your pet will continue to act normally. Symptoms only appear after the diseases are well advanced. Signs of advanced dental disease and mouth pain include dropping food, losing weight, blood or puss in the drool and whining or crying while eating. If your pet displays any of these symptoms, you should immediately schedule an appointment at New Hope Animal Hospital for a dental examination.
Are Dental Cleanings the Same for Dogs and Cats?
Dogs and cats both need to have dental cleanings on a routine basis, but the process is different. When your pet comes in, we’ll provide you with details about what your pet will undergo.
Schedule a Pet Dental Exam with Your Veterinarian in Durham and Chapel Hill Today
Call our veterinarian in Durham and Chapel Hill at (919) 490-2000 for an appointment for a dental exam today. We are available to answer your questions.