The American Veterinary Dental Society reports that 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by age three. Plaque build-up is often first seen around 2 years of age on most pets. If plaque is allowed to remain on the surface of the tooth, it will eventually turn into calculus - a hard, cement-like material that plays a significant role in the development of gingivitis. Once formed, calculus is too hard and firmly attached to be removed with brushing alone.
Dental disease doesn’t affect just the mouth, either. Your pet can suffer serious consequences from having poor dental hygiene. Heart, lung, and kidney disease can be associated with long term dental disease.
The Cleaning Process
In order to achieve a thorough cleaning, your pet will need to be under general anesthesia. This allows us to clean your pet's teeth in places we would not be able to reach while your pet was awake. After your pet has been sedated, a technician will use an ultrasonic scaler (just like a human dentist would do) to remove any plaque or calculus build-up. Sometimes, if the calculus build-up is too thick, it can be gently chipped off with a pair of extracting forceps (as seen in the video to the right). It is important not to clean just the surface of the tooth, but inbetween teeth and up along the gumline as well.
After all the plaque and calculus has been removed, the dental technician will use an air powered rotating polishing cup and prophy polishing paste to gently polish the surface of the tooth. This polishing procedure is important in not only removing any scratches to the enamel done by the cleaning process, but to also seal the surface of the tooth and help prevent future staining and plaque build-up.
A lot of pet owners balk at the thought of their pet loosing teeth, but some situations warrant the extraction of teeth. Some reasons teeth may need to be extracted are:
Damage to the tooth surface (such as a fracture)
Damage orexposure to the tooth root
Oral infections (abscess, stomatitis, etc)
Retained deciduous teeth (baby teeth that did not fall out once the adult tooth erupted)
It is difficult to tell during a physical exam while your pet is awake if they will need teeth extracted. Extracting teeth may cause some temporary discomfort, but the end result will benefit your pet's health and overall comfort!