My Vet Animal Hospital’s Dental Specials!
Be sure to take advantage of our awesome dental specials! These specials are a great opportunity to get the treatment your pet has been needing at a special price. Scroll down to learn more about our monthly specials and be sure to check back as they are updated often. Take advantage of them before the time runs out! For more details, give us a call!
Our dental specials include:
- 15% off select dental surgeries (please call us for more details)
- Get a free toothbrush with the purchase of toothpaste
- Dental Vouchers: Receive $20 x 3 dental vouchers when they purchase a bag of Hill’s T/D
- 10% off all dental products
Give us a call today and take advantage of this pawesome offer!
Offer applies to the end of August.
What's Wrong with My Dog's Teeth?
At My Vet Animal Hospital – Waterloo, every pet gets a thorough physical exam. This physical exam includes a dental exam. When we check the teeth, we’re not just checking for how dirty they are, we’re making sure the teeth are happy and healthy and sitting in the right place.
A normal dog has 42 teeth that sit in perfect alignment ensconced in the bone of the jaw. These teeth are made up of three layers: enamel, dentin, and cementum, the toughest of which is the pearly enamel. The hard exterior of the tooth belies its soft interior which is made of blood vessels and nerves keeping the tooth alive.
There’s obviously a lot more going on than just that but, for the purposes of this blog, let’s focus on the structures listed above.
What can go wrong?
Aside from periodontal disease, dogs commonly suffer from dental malocclusion and fractures.
Let’s start with malocclusion. The prefix “mal-” means “wrong” while the word “occlusion” refers to the way teeth come into contact with teeth from the opposite jaw.
There are two types of malocclusion:
- Dental – this means that the jaw sits normally (no overbite or underbite) but the teeth are sitting abnormally
- Skeletal – this means that the teeth are sitting normally but there’s an overbite or underbite
Dental malocclusions can be caused by having baby teeth (also known as deciduous teeth) that just won’t fall out. As a general guideline, if there are any baby teeth hanging around past the age of 6 months, they aren’t coming out. Ever. This is easily fixed, though, at desexing, your veterinarian will probably recommend extraction.
Spot the baby tooth!
More rarely, dental malocclusions can also occur when there are just too many teeth! This is called “supernumerary teeth”. The teeth tend to push each other around and – more often than not – they start to grow the wrong way! How do we fix it? We pull those extra teeth out and hope that they haven’t done too much damage already!
Why do we care about malocclusions? Teeth poking the wrong way, such that they are rubbing on other teeth or poking into gums and other soft structures, can cause pain and discomfort. Very bad malocclusions can cause teeth to poke holes into the soft palate which can lead to the formation of oronasal fistulas (holes which connect the mouth to the nose in the worst way).
Skeletal malocclusions are most often seen due to genetic factors. Think of bulldogs, for example, with those massive underbites. That said, trauma can cause the jaw to shift and cause malocclusions in that way.
For mild dental malocclusions – especially if we detect them early – we commonly recommend ball therapy. Dogs are given a rubber ball that fits just nicely into their mouth to play with. The hope is for the ball to push on the teeth that are leaning too far into the mouth, so they become more normally occluded.
Choosing the right size is important!
It is very, very important to use a durable rubber ball and not a hard ball. We’re counting on the repetitive action of chewing on the ball to push the teeth outward. As such, a hard ball, like the classic tennis ball, can damage the teeth. (Squishy tennis balls for dogs, though, are okay!)
When ball therapy isn’t an option, our only options are (1) extraction of the offending teeth or (2) referral to a veterinary dentist. Veterinary dentists are specialists who can perform something known as crown height reduction which means the teeth are burred down to the level of the pulp (which is made up of nerves and vessels), so they can’t cause any issues. The pulp has to be dressed and restored and the teeth will have to be closely monitored with dental X-rays.
Enamel is pretty darn tough. It’s known to be harder than bone – heck, it’s known to be harder than steel. BUT there’s a key difference between steel and enamel. Enamel is brittle. For that reason, in the battle between bone and enamel, bone often wins.
Fractures are usually caused by trauma, be it from bones or from a motor vehicle accident. Why do we care? Because fractures HURT. You try eating with a broken tooth. I can barely cope with my gingivitis. Dogs are often very tough and you might scarcely notice a reduction in appetite but that doesn’t mean it isn’t painful.
Furthermore, because the pulp is exposed, you have a new gateway for infection. The last thing you need is an abscess in your dog’s jaw as well.
This is the main reason we advise owners to stay away from anything that is too hard for teeth. Deer antlers are notorious for breaking teeth as are those huge thigh bones you can get from the butcher. (For our guide on bones, check out this blog!) Your dog is NOT a wolf. Be gentle with your dog’s teeth. They will live far longer and will require their teeth for a much longer time than the average wolf.
If the damage has already been done, the only thing we can do is to pull the teeth out. Your dog will be a million times more comfortable with that terrible tooth out AND you can prevent further issues in the future. However, if you’re keen on saving the tooth (especially if it’s a big tooth like the canine), we will refer you to a veterinary dentist who can perform specialist procedures like root canals.
Prevention and detection are key to maintaining your furbaby’s health and happiness. Granted, there are some things we can’t do anything about, like malocclusions – some dogs are just born that way – but there are ways to prevent malocclusions from becoming a problem. Other things, like fractures, you can absolutely can and should prevent!
Common Cat Dental Diseases
Just as with dental disease in humans – most disease is preventable. That means, most pain is preventable. Just as you wouldn’t casually say, “Yeah, extract all my teeth,” just to avoid daily brushing, we try to preserve your cat’s teeth for as long as we can.
Wonder what the most common dental diseases are in cats? Read on.
The Most Common Dental Diseases in Cats
1) Periodontal disease
Periodontal disease is the most common problem we encounter in everyday practice. Periodontal disease is when bacterial plaque destroys the tissues that support your teeth. Important tissues like gum and bone.
The most common signs of periodontal disease you’ll notice at home are bad breath, red gums, excessive salivation, and – when it’s really, really bad – a lack of appetite. Can you imagine having your mouth SO sore that you wouldn’t eat?
Usually, if you’re really good with brushing your cat’s teeth and your cat comes in for a routine scale and polish, you’re good. But individual variations exist and some cats need to come in more frequently than others.
Angry, red gums
2) Feline Oral Resorptive Lesions (FORL)
Cats, being a little special, do interesting things with their teeth. They go beyond just having regular periodontal disease and show up with Feline Oral Resorptive Lesions (FORL).
These resorptive lesions are holes in the teeth which can lead to infections and are often very, very painful. No one really knows exactly what causes these lesions, except that maybe changes in local pH stimulates odontoclasts (special cells that eat through bone). There’s a very strong association between these resorptive lesions and periodontal disease. Periodontal disease also makes it easy to underestimate the number of teeth affected, especially when teeth are covered with plaque and calculus.
That’s why the most definitive way to diagnose these lesions is with a full oral examination under anaesthetic. There’s no real way to cure these lesions, so once these teeth are affected, they usually have to be extracted.
Do you see that hole? The tooth is being eaten away!
3) Feline Chronic Gingivostomatitis (FCGS)
Feline Chronic Gingivostomatitis (FCGS) is the terribly angry version of the periodontal disease that won’t be satisfied with regular dental care. We don’t know why but, in some cats, inflammation ramps up at the very presence of plaque, resulting in angry, red gums and ulcerations in the mouth. Some say there is a correlation with viral infections, some say that there’s an immune-mediated component – it could even be a bit of both.
For cats like these, prevention of plaque accumulation is vital. In some very, very bad cases, the only cure is the removal of all the teeth. Once we diagnose chronic gingivostomatitis, the primary goal is to help cats feel more comfortable, even if they still have a degree of disease.
The best place to start is a professional scale and polish and meticulous home care. Your veterinarian may also prescribe antibiotics and anti-inflammatories to try and tamp down all of that inflammation and prevent it from worsening.
Malocclusions aren’t as much a disease as they are the cause of disease. When we see malocclusions, we tend to be looking at how the teeth sit in relation to the jaw. These are called “dental malocclusions”. They are most common in flat-faced cats because there’s nowhere for the teeth to go!
Malocclusions are often problematic because of how they:
- Create more plaque-retentive surfaces, i.e., there are just more nooks and crannies for plaque to stick to
- Cause teeth to poke into soft structures, which makes chewing painful and can cause ulcerations
- Cause wear and tear on the teeth they’re in contact with, often rubbing enamel away
When your veterinarian detects these malocclusions, there’s a good chance you may be referred to a veterinary dentist, a veterinarian with specialist training in all things dentistry.
How can I prevent dental disease?
The most effective dental prevention is the dental prevention your cat tolerates. The best thing to do is to start young because it increases the chances that your cat will tolerate tooth-brushing. (The humble toothbrush, by the way, is the most effective way of preventing dental disease.)
If you can’t brush teeth, you’ll need to think about prevention in two parts: (1) removing plaque mechanically and (2) keeping plaque soft (so you can remove it later). We cover this in a different blog post about keeping your furbaby’s teeth clean!
Preventing feline oral resorptive lesions and feline chronic gingivostomatitis can be a bit different because we don’t entirely understand why these diseases occur. Having clean teeth is a good place to start but certain viral infections, like Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), can predispose to dental disease.
For that reason, it’s important to keep your cat indoors and be vigilant! Sometimes the dental disease is just the tip of the iceberg.
It is tough to deal with dental disease in cats…especially when they’re so stubborn! Have any questions about dental disease? Have a chat with your vet! Need a demonstration on brushing your cat’s teeth? Just let us know. One of our helpful nurses can help you out!
How To Prevent Dental Disease in Pets
Does your pet have dental disease? Sometimes it can be hard to tell! Even the best, most loving pet owners might not realise their pet has dental disease! And, just as in humans, dental disease is painful! Worse still, dental disease is related to systemic disease!
Here are some tips on what you can do to help keep your pet’s smile bright and healthy.
Brush Your Pet’s Teeth!
We know it sounds crazy, but if your pet will allow it, brushing your pet’s teeth is the BEST thing you can do! You can buy a pet toothbrush that fits over your finger and pet toothpaste that tastes like chicken or beef. (Don’t use human toothpaste! They frequently contain ingredients toxic to pets.)
You can get your pet used to tooth-brushing by starting with gentle gum rub. Then, work up to a slightly more vigorous brushing. You can even see a video here!
Feed Dry Food
Dry food (rather than wet or canned) helps prevent plaque and tartar build-up by scraping against the tooth. For pets (and their parents) who need extra help, a prescription dental diet like Hill’s t/d can be really helpful. These biscuits are designed for your pet has to chew through, which scrapes tartar right off. It also has special additives in the food to help reduce tartar and plaque from building up.
When it comes to dental chews, make sure that the product you buy is Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) approved. There are so many on the market, you may as well buy the one that works.
There are only two chews that are VOHC approved in Australia. That’s OraVet and Greenies.
OraVet comes with an additional ingredient, delmopinol, which is an additive that prevents plaque from sticking to the teeth. This makes it easier for plaque to be removed whether with the chew itself, dry food, or with brushing. I like to think of it as having toothpaste built into a toothbrush that tastes like vanilla cookies.
Greenies work in a similar way. The manufacturers claim to have studied the biomechanics of a bite, so you get more out of every chew. The VOHC agrees and has given them the seal of acceptance for plaque control.
We recommend bones with caution. Your pet probably loves them, but bones that are too hard can break teeth…which can be really painful and are often more trouble than they’re worth. Read our blog about raw bones here!
I really like Healthy Mouth, a water additive that helps prevent plaque build-up and reduce inflammation. Your pet can have a choice between the Original flavour, Wagyu, Peanut Butter, and Blueberry. It is the only water additive that is approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)!
One other option to consider is Hexarinse, which is a lot more like our mouthwash than HealthyMouth is. Instead of being added to water, you rinse your pet’s mouth out with Hexarinse. Hexarinse tastes/smells like oranges, so some pets don’t mind it too much. Every pet is an individual though!
My favourite way to use Hexarinse is on a cotton pad. I rub the cotton pad on each tooth in a gentle circular motion. The agents in Hexarinse disrupt biofilm and kill bacteria. It’s not as good as tooth-brushing but, I find, it’s a lot more tolerable for cats.
Regular scale and polish
Homecare is indispensable. However, a regular scale and polish is still necessary to keep teeth sparkling white and clean and healthy!
We humans get a scale and polish pretty regularly, your pet is no different. The procedure is a lot more common than you might think! A dental scale and polish is the only way to remove the plaque and tartar build-up on your pet’s teeth. We not only make the teeth look fantastic by scaling all that gunk off, we also check the gums thoroughly to make sure there are no problems brewing. Then, we polish the teeth to make it harder for plaque to stick (and to give him minty fresh breath).
A full general anaesthetic is necessary for a scale and polish. This is the safest way to perform a scale and polish. Sometimes, while they’re under anaesthetic, we detect problems we may have missed on the physical exam. When this happens, we can take teeth out while they’re still asleep and make them feel much, much better.
It is very important for your pet’s teeth to be checked frequently (at least once a year) and to have them cleaned necessary. That will ensure your little friend has a healthy smile – and fresh breath! – for years to come.
Keep smiling and help your pet flash that Hollywood smile! Remember, if you have any questions, give us a call and one of our pawesome staff members would be more than happy to help.
How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
Step by Step Guide:
- Start with letting your dog you know that you are not going to hurt them, by touching around his or her mouth
- Use a baby toothbrush with the softest bristle
- Get a proper pet toothpaste
- Put some toothpaste on a toothbrush
- Open the lips a little bit and just gently massage the teeth – don’t press too hard
- Remember to brush the back gently
- Repeat on the other side
Welcome to My Vet how to videos. My name is Doctor Cherlene Lee and today I’m going to be showing you how to brush your dog’s teeth.
Firstly, personally I don’t brush my dog’s teeth because it is very difficult and he doesn’t like it. But with that said, Chu comes in for a dental scale and polish every 18 months.
First of all, start with letting your dog know you’re quite comfortable touching around his or her mouth. You can start that by using your finger and letting them know that you’re not hurting them. You can do positive reinforcements, after you do this give them a treat, once they are a lot more comfortable, I find that using a baby toothbrush with the softest bristle works. Get a proper pet toothpaste, to use because human toothpaste is completely a no go.
So, put some toothpaste on a toothbrush. Open the teeth like that a little bit and just gently, just massage it so don’t press too hard. Some dogs with severe dental disease this can very painful and they not gonna accept it. Remember to brush the back like that just very gently. As you can see it can be quite hard trying to brush their teeth, so that’s why I don’t, but to be honest I don’t do it but Chu comes in for a scale and polish every 18 months. So, you can repeat that on the other side, there are also other things that you can do to help maintain their teeth. If you would like more information you can check out our Ebook. Send us an email and we will be happy to send that E-book to you.
My Vet Animal Hospital is partnering with Hill’s Science Diet to give back to the community!
This charity will run from April to September 2021
- Any client that wants to try Hill’s Puppy/Kitten food and purchases a bag of Hill’s Science diet food from us will receive a voucher ($20 x 2) – that you can use for future purchases with us.
- If your puppy/kitten loves Hill’s food, you can bring their original dog food bag in (the food you have at home, doesn’t matter what brand) – and swap it for a brand new bag of Hill’s food for FREE. Limit to 1 swap per client.
- We will then donate all the unused food to charity – eg homeless people’s dogs, people who are struggling, etc
- This swap and change also applies to adult pets BUT vouchers only apply to puppy and kitten food.
Interested in one of our specials?
Our team is here to answer your questions and get an appointment scheduled for you. You can either request an appointment online or contact us today using the buttons below.
A LITTLE ABOUT US
Our staff have been caring for pets for over 10 years now, and we’re still loving every moment of it. This is not just an occupation. For us, caring for animals is a way of life. We love meeting new pets, getting to know them and making them feel their best. This is our passion. We’re proud to be considered industry leaders. We always strive to go over and above for our animals and their owners to give them the best experience possible with a personalised service.