Small Animal Dental Awareness

News about Dental Health, Pet Care Services

February is National Pet Dental Health Month

dog-with-toothbrushWe at Kennesaw Mountain Veterinary Services are offering a 20% discount on all dentals for small animals and horses.  Your pets dental will include necessary pre-surgical examination, bloodwork, anesthesia monitoring, prophy, scaling, and polishing.  We will also send home a dental care kit which will include necessary at home management tools to keeping your pets teeth clean.

Don’t turn your nose to your pet’s bad breath! That odor might signify a serious health risk, with the potential to damage not only your pet’s teeth and gums but its internal organs as well.

To address the significance of oral health care for pets, the AVMA and several veterinary groups are sponsoring National Pet Dental Health Month in February.

Most dogs and cats have bacteria surrounding the teeth and gums that could potentially be harmful.  By the time the dogs or cats have turned two years old their teeth may need to be checked on a routine basis in order to help prevent further complications down the road.  We will be looking for things like cavities, tarter build up, ulcerations, masses,  occlusion, or periodontal disease that may affect the normal anatomy within the oral cavity.  Most diets have enzymes that fight tarter build up within the food which is formulated to help control tarter and may decrease the Occurrence periodontal and teeth issues.  Most dog foods that have a kibble can mechanically reduced tarter while the pets chew the food.  Small Animal Dental HealthThe food still can find its way between the teeth in the caps of the teeth and further complicate any cavities that might be formed.  Over long periods of time tarter can build up and the bacteria will multiply resulting in gingivitis, tooth decay, root infections, and even premature loss of teeth.  The bacteria may be absorbed in the gingiva and then transported to other parts of the body through the bloodstream.  More serious infections could result in valvular heart disease called bacterial endocarditis and the bacteria may end up in other organs such as the kidney resulting  in unwanted problems concerning  the pet.  Most of this pertains to cats as well as dogs.  I’m sure most of you have had a cat that has been bitten by another cat and a nasty abscess formed.  You guessed it, the bacteria in the mouth infected the wound and a couple days later the infection  is overwhelming and can cause serious infection if not treated properly.

During each yearly visit I like to check the condition of each pets teeth and make the necessary recommendations which will help provide each pet with a healthier life and healthier teeth.  Most pets require dentals every year or two beginning at the age of four or five.  This is not necessarily true for each individual.  Some dogs will play with enough toys and stay active enough that they will mechanically disrupt the tartar buildup and their teeth will stay healthy enough to where they seldom need dental work.  Other dogs that may eat human food or softer diets without much exercise may tend to build more tartar on their teeth.  In either case dental prophylaxis scaling and polishing the teeth is a healthy preventative measure to keep the teeth on track for for a long time. If early cavity formation is detected root canals may be performed to save the root which will eventually help save the tooth.  Most of the time the tooth is already decayed with a shallow root and infected socket which may fall out on its own.  And a lot of times the infection in the socket will result abscess formation which may cause pain and  inflammation .  Sometimes the abscesses may create a fistula to the skin surface and will drain with a bloody or mucopurulent discharge.    All these infections would require immediate attention with systemic antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, and necessary pain management.  The choice of each medication is determined on a case to case basis.

Dog Dental ExamEach patient that will be receiving a dental will be put under general anesthesia.  Pre-surgical blood work and thorough presurgical exam will help us to determine which type of anesthesia used during the dental.  Any facial swellings, lymph node involvement, halitosis, and gingivitis may help us to determine the extent of pathology in the mouth.  Radiographs will further help us identify pathology and help us make necessary recommendations.  Any pet older than seven years old will have presurgical blood work and IV catheterization with IV fluids during the procedure.  This is a mandatory protocol that we have adopted at Kennesaw Mountain Veterinary Services for our older patients.  All patients will be intubated with a cuffed endotracheal tube which will maintain a patent airway during the procedure to prevent any of the fluid getting to the lungs.  After cleaning the large particles of any tartar with a manual scaler and assessing any pathology, an ultrasonic scaler will be used to clean the stained teeth.  During each dental procedure,  we will assess any gingival, root or tooth problem and determine what course needs to be taken.  Once the patient has recovered we will rinse the mouth in order to clean of any remaining debris.  The teeth will be ready to be polished. Necessary antibiotics or anti-inflammatories and sometimes pain medications will be determined at the time of the procedure for the pet to go home with.

Two dogs

The gold standard for dental home care is regular and effective tooth brushing. The mechanical action of the bristles help to disrupt the soft plaque that forms on the teeth before it can turn into hard tartar.

Human toothpastes should never be used, because they contain detergents and fluoride that the dog should not swallow – and most dogs don’t spit well. Toothpastes made specifically for pets are safe to be ingested, and with the effect of a dual enzyme system, provides additional action against the bacteria in plaque.

With the appropriate chewing device, the mechanical action can help slow down the accumulation of plaque and tartar on your dog’s teeth. Not all products for chewing are good, however, because larger, harder ones could break your dog’s teeth. Some chews may contain additional ingredients that help fight the plaque as well.

If your dog doesn’t appreciate getting a chew, you can still take some steps to help improve his/her oral hygiene. Oral antiseptic rinses are often used to help work against the plaque containing bacteria that can form on the tooth surfaces. Products added to the drinking water can also help in the fight against plaque formation.

We use products from Virbac for each of these applications and a complimentary kit will be given to each pet after their respective procedure.  The toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental chews, and rinses are available in the clinic or online at for your convenience.  We at KMVS look forward to meeting your  pets’ dental needs.

Please call us to set up an appointment 770-447-3927