Dental Disease

by / Monday, 06 August 2012 / Published in News Archive, Small Animals


Dental disease or gingivitis describes inflammation and infection of our gums. Plaque and tartar build up over time causing gingivitis often progressing to tooth disease. As with our own teeth, if left untreated gingivitis causes pain and suffering. More seriously, untreated mouth infections can affect other organs thus compromising your pet’s health.

Why has my dog developed dental disease?bad-teeth

People brush their teeth twice a day, floss and use mouthwash but STILL have to visit their dentist at least yearly to have a dental examination and clean and scale. So it is not surprising animals develop dental disease too. Some dogs and cats despite the correct foods and dental preventative treatments at home still develop dental disease. Poor diet is the biggest contributor to exacerbating dental disease. Diets based on wet tinned food or home cooked foods are soft with little value as far as oral health is concerned.

Signs your dog or cat has got dental disease.

  • Bad breath, often the first sign of dental disease.
  • Painful mouth, they may act aggressively if mouth or head is touched.
  • Drooling.
  • Loss of appetite or dropping food when eating.
  • Loss of weight.
  • Not wanting to chew toys.

If you notice any of these signs in your dog it is time to make an appointment with your veterinarian to have your pet’s mouth examined.

What will happen at my pet’s dental consultation with the vet?

Dental treatments are normally day procedures so it is important to schedule a morning consultation. Treatment requires a general anaesthetic to facilitate procedures being performed efficiently and painlessly so please don’t feed you pet the morning of the consultation.

At your morning consultation your vet will:check-teeth

Perform a thorough examination and collect all relevant history on your pet to ensure no other health conditions are present.

Examine and grade your pet’s teeth and gums to determine what is required.

If treatment is recommended, and it is best for your pet to have treatment that day, your vet will admit your pet into hospital and prepare them for their anaesthetic and treatment. Please understand some patients will require medication for a few days before treatment so it may be necessary to schedule treatment for an alternative day.

Under anaesthetic your pet will have their teeth and gums assessed for cavities or teeth infections. Teeth are extracted if necessary and plaque and tartar removed before teeth are cleaned, scaled and polished with our ultrasonic scaler. When treatment is finished your pet is recovered from anaesthetic in hospital under close supervision.

A discharge appointment is scheduled with you and your vet that afternoon to explain what you will need to do at home. At this appointment a post-operative visit is scheduled for 1 week time

What does the vet look for when grading my pet’s teeth?

GRADE 0 – Healthy mouth and teeth. No plaque or discolouration. OUR AIM!!!

GRADE 1- Plaque on teeth only with NO tartar or gingivitis present.

Grade 0 and 1 is our aim for all our animals. These animals have no pain or disease and preventatives like brushing, dental diets and dental treats are all that your vet will prescribe.


A Grade of 2 and over mean pain and damage is occurring that requires treatment. We like to perform dental treatments at Grade 2 to stop further damage and reduce the risk of tooth infections developing what may require painful tooth extractions.

What will I need to do at home after dental treatment?

As your pet has had a general anaesthetic it is important to keep then quiet and warm for at least 24 hours after discharge. Teeth are often a little tender after treatment so it is recommended to feed a soft chunky diet for 3-5 days after the procedure. Eukanuba low residue tinned diet is best although diced chicken is also an option.

If medication has been prescribed give until finished according to instructions. Attend your post-dental appointment so your vet can reassess teeth and extraction cavities and discuss dental preventative measures.

How can I prevent my pet from developing dental disease?

As with people dental disease it is not 100% preventable, however, the degree of dental disease and the speed at which it develops can be reduced.

The best ways to slow dental disease developing in your pet’s mouth include:

Feed Premium diets with dental treatments included. All Eukanuba diets contain dental defensive additives or Hills t/d (tooth diet) are excellent choices

Brush your dog’s teeth at home on a regular basis.  The Vet Cross team are happy to show you some tooth brushing tricks.


Dental treats. Many dental treats such as Greenies are available to help reduce plaque build up. They let you reward your pet and clean their teeth at the same time.

Good quality canine chew toys, designed to reduce tartar build up.

Regular veterinary checkups are recommended to detect dental disease early.

At Vet Cross we are committed to a philosophy of prevention being better than cure aiming to maintain a healthy mouth for our patients wherever possible. Dental hygiene plays a major role in this philosophy.

With our experienced qualified and caring vets and nurses let us work together to keep you and your pets happier and healthier for longer.





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