Dental disease can begin as early as one year of age and often goes unnoticed for years. At Tantallon Veterinary Hospital, we try to raise awareness about dogs (and all animals) dental health and how important it is to maintain and care for your dog’s teeth. Preventing dental disease is much easier than treating it!
What types of canine dental care services are offered at your hospital?
We offer a wide variety of services from education about helpful dental diets and tooth brushing, to a scale and polish, to X-rays and extractions. Each case is very different, please book a dental consult, or mention it to your vet at your annual exam if you have concerns about your dog’s oral health!
How often should I brush my dog’s teeth?
Ideally, daily! Pets teeth should be cared for much like our own. If daily is not possible, a few times a week is better than not at all. Some treats and diets can also help prevent dental disease.
Why is oral and dental health important?
It is easier to prevent dental disease than treat it. Maintaining oral health helps maintain your dog’s overall health as well, as dental disease can affect many parts of your dog. They can eat their food without discomfort, play, and chew on toys without any pain.
What happens when dental diseases are untreated?
If left untreated, dental disease causes:
- Chronic pain. Most dogs show few obvious signs of pain, yet suffer from discomfort, toothaches and chronic oral pain.
- Localized infections. Dental disease can cause tooth root abscesses and inflamed, swollen gums.
- Internal organ disease. Bacteria from the mouth can get into the bloodstream and become widely distributed throughout the body; in particular the heart, kidneys, lungs and joints.
What can I do?
Start with having your dog examined to stage the dental disease. Then, our veterinarians will decide on an appropriate treatment plan for the individual dog.
Home Dental Care
Regular home care should be started at approximately 6 months of age. Depending on the size of your dog, an infant, child or adult soft toothbrush can be used. Use toothpaste formulated for pets that is safe to swallow. We carry a variety of flavours at the hospital. Try to make brushing an enjoyable experience and praise your dog for letting you brush his or her teeth.
Veterinary Dental Treatments
This includes a comprehensive oral examination and assessment of each tooth. Teeth will be treated with a full cleaning of the crown of each tooth as well as a thorough cleaning below the gum line, all done with an ultrasonic scaler. Next, a polish is applied to remove microscopic scratches and make the surface more resistant to plaque build up. If required oral surgery will be performed and decayed teeth will be surgically extracted thus removing the pain and source of infection. Dental x-rays are often performed to view the crown, tooth roots and supporting structures. Radiographs are an important part of dental assessments because they help identify the severity of periodontal disease and the health of each individual tooth, thus aiding in the treatment plan.
General anesthetic is required. It is not possible to do a thorough and proper dental exam and treatment while the patient is awake. It is not possible to examine all teeth surfaces, or examine below the gum line or take x-rays. Ultrasonic scalers cannot be used in an awake animal as they produce sound, vibrations and eject water that ‘tickle’ the gingiva. Any attempts of a dental cleaning by non-veterinary individuals with improper choice of instruments will lead to scarring and micro-pitting of the enamel, thus damaging the tooth. This will cause plaque and tartar development to occur more rapidly and progress to further dental disease.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your dog’s dental health status please call us at 902.826.9344 to book an appointment with one of our veterinarians.