Does Your Pet Need a Dental Cleaning?

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Does your pet have bad breath? Is he spending more time trying to chew his food, or is he avoiding eating hard treats and food all together? These are sings that your pet is feeling pain or discomfort. If you are noticing that your pet is showing these signs of discomfort, it is time for him to have an oral health examination by his veterinarian! According to the American Veterinary Dental College, most cats and dogs show signs of periodontal disease by the age of three. Left untreated, periodontal disease can cause multiple health problems in both cats and dogs. In order to remove plaque, tartar, and bacteria from your pet’s mouth, a professional dental cleaning is recommended for your pet. Yearly oral health examinations and professional dental cleanings are the safest and most effective way to practice quality oral health care. Taking good care of your pet’s oral health is very important for not only your pet’s overall healthy well-being, but it can help prevent and manage the #1 gum disease- periodontal disease.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection of the mouth that occurs when bacteria accumulates on your pet’s gums, soft tissue, and bone surrounding the teeth. Normal bacteria naturally live in your pet’s mouth, giving it an opportunity to develop into plaque if it isn’t brushed off of your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. When plaque accumulates on the surface of the teeth, it allows bacteria to get trapped onto the teeth and beneath the gumline. Early signs of periodontal disease usually begin with red and inflamed gums (the result of trapped bacteria), but periodontal disease can create more than just red and inflamed gums. There are four stages of periodontal disease, which affect your pet’s health in a variety of ways. Preventing and managing periodontal disease is critical in preserving your pet’s healthy teeth and gums. Left untreated, the bacteria associated with periodontal disease can also travel into the bloodstream to infect the heart, kidneys, and liver.

The Four Stages of Periodontal Disease




STAGE 1                                                                                         

Minimal dental tartar.  Inflammation and redness of the gums.  No bone loss present.







STAGE 2                                                                                         

Early Periodontitis. Mild loss of bone and soft tissue around the teeth. Minimal to mild pain and discomfort to your pet.







STAGE 3                                                                                         

 Moderate Periodontitis. Slight to moderate bone loss. Your pet may experience mild to moderate pain at this stage.







Advanced periodontitis.  Painful inflammation around the teeth. Moderate bone loss.  Most pets experience severe pain and discomfort  



Can I Brush the Tartar off of My Pet’s Teeth?

No, tartar cannot be brushed off of your pet’s teeth. Once tartar has been formed, a professional dental cleaning is the only way to effectively clean tartar off of the teeth and underneath the gum tissue in your pet’s mouth.

Does My Pet Need to be Under Anesthesia for a Dental Cleaning?

The American Animal Hospital Association, and the American Veterinary Dental College both agree that dental cleanings should be performed with the use of anesthesia. While your pet is under anesthesia, a complete oral health exam and radiographs are performed to fully examine the teeth and below the gum line. An ultrasonic scaler is then used to remove the dental tartar that is present.

Would you like to learn more about our dental cleaning procedure? South Town Animal Hospital uses State of the Art Surgical and Monitoring Equipment. Please take a look at our surgical page or stop by the hospital for a tour of our dental suite.

Get to Know Our Doctors

Dr Denise Crittenden

Dr Deborah Groth

Dr Sheri Cody

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