Dental disease is the number one health issue affecting 80% of dogs and 70% of cats over the age of three according to the Amerian Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS).
If left untreated, bacteria from accumulated plaque and tarter can result in permanent damage to underlying tissues leading to tooth loss and bone damage. Bacteria can also travel via the bloodstream to the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys and cause serious infections and chronic health problems. However, these conditions can be prevented with regular dental care.
Montpelier Veterinary Hospital recommends complete dental cleanings for pets who already have dental disease, as mineralized plaque cannot be removed with even the most intensive brushing regimen. To reduce patient stress, injury and other complications, pets require general anesthesia to perform dental cleanings. As such, each patient undergoing a cleaning will recieve a physical examination and lab work prior to anesthesia as well as intravenous fluid therapy and continuous anesthetic monitoring and support. Dental radiographs (x-rays) are taken following cleaning with our state-of-the-art dental radiograph system to evaluate tooth roots below the gum line. If needed, our veterinarians can perform oral surgery to address disease and help return your pet's mouth to good health.
Although tooth brushing daily is recommended as the best measure to prevent plaque build-up, there are other methods by which you can help maintain your pet's oral health. The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) provides a regularly updated compendium of oral products including water additives, treats, and foods that best help to prevent dental disease; these updated lists are provided under additional resources on this page.
Prevention of dental disease is also best accomplished with routine annual wellness exams to evaluate your pet's mouth. Staging of your pet's teeth is part of our thorough physical examination; examples of each stage are show below. We can give recommendations for the best ways to prevent dental disease to meet your individual pet's needs and help schedule your pet for a dental cleaning to help your keep your companion in good health.
Soft plaque build-up and a small amount of tarter is present on the surface of the teeth. Bacteria present within the mineralized deposits of tarter allow for bacterial growth and invasion into gum tissues, causing early gingivitis marked by red, inflamed gums.
Mild to moderate tarter is built up and harbors food particles, debris, and bacteria to accumulate near the gum line. As a result, the gums are red, swollen, and painful. With proper dental care at this stage, gingivitis is usually reversable.
Heavy tarter accumulation is present, and pockets of debris and bacteria have accumulated along the gumline and infected the tissues surrounding the teeth. As a result, loose teeth are often present at this stage due to bone loss, and the gums are inflamed and bleed freely. Patients with this stage of dental disease often experience oral pain.
Severe tarter formation and gingivitis is present with infection from bacteria spreading deep into tooth roots leading to abscesses, rotten teeth, and substantial oral pain. Tooth loss is imminent for patients at this stage, and patients at this stage have severe bone loss that make them at increased risk for inavertent jaw fractures. Additionally, bacteria from the mouth may easily spread through the bloodstream to harm organs throughout the body.
The veterinarians and staff at Montpelier Veterinary Hospital hope to work with you to make the best decisions for your beloved pet's care!