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Christchurch Pet Dentistry

Dental disease is the most common disease we see in ageing pets. Healthy clean teeth are essential to maximise life expectancy. 

85% of dogs and cats over the age of 3 have signs of dental disease, with dental disease being one of the most common issues seen by vets.  Bad breath (halitosis) is not “normal” in pets and is normally an indication of a mouth infection/ dental disease. These infections can cause discomfort in pets and can lead to more serious infections of the heart, liver and kidneys.

Dental Disease and Treatment:

What are the physical signs of dental disease?

  • Halitosis, increased salivation, red gums, unwilling/ inability to eat, tartar build-up on the teeth, broken teeth.

 

If you notice any of these changes, click here to contact us to book an appointment for a free dental check-up.  One of our vets will throughly examine your pets mouth and will let you know if any dental treatment is required.  We will also give you a detailed estimate of the likely costs involved in any additional treatment that may be required.

 

Are all pets at risk for dental disease?

  • Cats and smaller breed dogs are genetically prone to worse dental disease than larger dogs. These pets need more regular monitoring and treatment.

When should my pet have a dental clean? 

  • If there is visible tartar on the teeth, redness of the gum-line or broken teeth, then you should schedule a dental appointment for your pet. 

What can you do to fix a broken tooth?

  • If your dog or cat breaks a tooth, there are two treatments: root canal therapy or extraction. This should be done as soon as possible as the exposed nerve will cause pain and potential root infection.

What does a dental procedure involve? 

  • Your pet will have a physical exam and blood work if necessary.  After you pet is anaesthetised, the tartar will be removed, periodontal sockets probed and measured, and dental radiographs are taken as necessary. Tooth abnormalities are treated depending on the findings. The enamel is then polished to recreate a smooth tooth surface.

What are dental x-rays and are they necessary? 

  • Dental radiographs (x-rays) allow us to evaluate the tooth and the supporting structures (including the jaw bone surrounding the teeth). It is common to have damage to the bone or tooth root which is hidden under the gum-line and can only be seen with radiographs.

How will my pet eat if several teeth are extracted?  

  • Even if you pet is not showing signs of pain, advanced dental causes significant discomfort. Removing these diseased teeth is better for your pet, and many clients report a significant improvement in their pets’ wellbeing, even during the recovery process.

My cat/dog still eats fine and the teeth are bad……is he/she in pain? 

  • Animals have a strong natural instinct to hide pain and normal eating is not a reliable indicator of pain. If dental disease is present, some degree of discomfort will be present and treatment is warranted.

Is my pet “too old” for a dental procedure? 

  • Unless your pet has been diagnosed with a serious medical condition, it is best to continue with regular professional cleaning to keep the dental disease under control. If left to progress, dental disease can lead to serious infections of the heart, liver and kidney (not ideal in the senior cat or dog with an already declining immune system). Once the teeth have been cleaned, every attempt should be made to delay the progression of the tartar formation (with an effective dental home care program).

Some people advertise “non anaesthetic” tooth cleaning – can’t I get that done instead?

  • Cosmetic (“non-anaesthetic”) teeth cleaning is not comparable to professional cleaning as it is not able to target the problematic areas under the gum line

Dental Home Care:

How do I prevent dental disease in my pet? 

  • Dental care should always be a 3-phased approach – daily tooth brushing, a diet with proven benefits, and regular dental checks. By choosing the right diet and using an appropriate oral hygiene program you can significantly slow the decline of dental decay and protect your pet’s health and happiness.

Why should I brush my dog's or cat's teeth?

  • Daily removal of plaque is the key to a successful oral hygiene program. Studies have shown that an absence of tooth brushing for 4 weeks leads to gingivitis. Gingivitis will lead to progression of the dental disease, which can lead to heart, liver and kidney infections.

How can I brush my animal's teeth?

  • It is usually a fun and easy procedure but pets need to be trained to accept it (as you would teach them to sit or stay). We understand that daily tooth brushing does not suit every pet or family. If you are interested in learning how to brush your pets teeth contact us for more information, or for a tooth brushing demonstration in your pet. There are pet-specific toothpastes that are flavoured and safe for use in your pet. Do not use human toothpaste. We stock everything you need to get started.

How often does my pet need to have teeth cleaned by the veterinarian?

  • It depends on the degree of plaque and tartar accumulation. Get your pet used to their mouth being examined at home and schedule 6-monthly free dental check-ups with us. If you notice any redness of the gums, tartar or bad breath, bring your pet in earlier.

Why does my pet need regular dental checks, isn’t bad breath normal in pets?

  • Bad breath is most commonly a sign of dental disease. Dental disease progresses at different rates in different pets, dependant on genetics, diet and the level of home care performed at home. The early stages of dental disease are reversible with regular cleaning but if left to progress, can lead to discomfort, infections and eventual loss of the teeth.

What is the best food for my pet?

  • Hard food will help remove plaque from teeth.  We recommend special diets specifically manufactured to help control plaque such as Royal Canin Dental and Hills Vet Essentials. Feeding these special diets in conjunction with daily brushing is the best way to keep the teeth clean.

What toys should I avoid to protect my pet's teeth?

  • Chewing on objects harder than teeth may lead to dental fractures. Bones should be avoided. Tug-of-war games should be avoided in young pets in order to avoid moving growing teeth to abnormal locations. 

Click here for more information about how to look after your pet's teeth