Luka and friends demonstrate how to keep your dog’s teeth shiny and clean!
Archives for February 2014
Indi was a rescue dog, and was lucky enough to find a wonderful home. She is one of our favorite patients, always excited to come to the clinic for her pedicures and treatments.
Indi has a condition called Addison’s disease. Her adrenal glands do not respond to stress properly, but you wouldn’t know this to meet her. When she comes to visit, she is jumping and vocal and tail-wagging. We actually don’t have many photos of her, because they come out blurry.
Indi also LOVES food. She demands treats during her visits, and we’ve learned that she was not taught be gentle when she was young, so we have to give the treats a little toss. This means that it’s difficult to see into her mouth, and impossible for her owners to brush her teeth at home.
When we noticed that Indi had dental disease, we had to plan the anesthetic carefully because of her condition. Her owners were understandably nervous.
Once we were able to look inside her mouth, we found a lot of tartar and several teeth that needed to be removed.
Indi went home the same day, and this is how she looked when she came back for her two week recheck:
Indi is more active, playing and eating better than ever. Her owners are delighted, because they have their ‘crazy girl’ back!
Once the dental assessment was complete for Cuddles, Dr. DeMille began to remove the diseased teeth. Some teeth were loose, or had a single root. Those teeth were loosened by using an instrument called an elevator and then lifted out by a pair of dental forceps, shaped like pliers.
More complex teeth, like molars, have 3 roots and need to be split or removed from the socket using a high-speed drill, similar to one you may have seen at your dentist’s office.
Once the tooth was loosened, it was removed with the forceps.
After teeth are removed from our pets, we use surgical suture to place stitches and close the site where the tooth was removed. This protects the bone and helps to aid in healing.
These stitches are placed using very fine suture material that will break down on its own, so there is no need to have the stitches removed. This is what Cuddles’ extraction site looked like after a large tooth was removed and the stitches placed.
After the dental surgery was done, Cuddles’ remaining teeth were polished and her mouth was rinsed out.
When we were finished, Cuddles was woken up from anesthetic and kept on a heated bed in our treatment room so that she could be watched closely as she recovered.
And that was Cuddles’ dental day at Richmond Veterinary Clinic.
If you have questions about our dental procedures, or any pet health questions, please feel free to call any time. (613) 354-2330.
We are back with Cuddles again to continue her dental adventures.
When the tartar has been removed from the teeth, above and below the gumline, then the veterinarian can determine which teeth are healthy, and which are not. Unhealthy teeth are generally removed, although veterinary dental specialists do have more advanced treatments (like root canals, caps and crowns) that can save diseased teeth.
Cuddles’ teeth were examined, one-by-one, and a probe was used to see how much space there was between the gum and the tooth.
We also use dental x-rays to see the tooth root below the gumline.
This is our dental xray machine, positioned to take one view of Cuddles’ teeth. We need to take several xrays to see all the roots of all the teeth.
Here is a close-up of how we would place a dental xray film.
Once the dental xrays are developed, the veterinarian can determine which teeth are diseased. These teeth will be removed.
Tomorrow, we will continue with Cuddles dental day at Richmond Veterinary Clinic.
When your pet comes to Richmond Veterinary Clinic for a dental procedure, there are several steps involved in the process and we’d like to show you what a day at the clinic looks like for a dentistry patient.
Our photo model’s owners graciously allowed us to use her image, but would like her to remain anonymous, so we will call her Cuddles.
After Cuddles was checked in for the day, she received a full physical examination from Dr. DeMille. Even if she was seen the day before in an appointment, this examination is still done. We also offer pre-anesthetic blood testing to check internal organ values, and chest x-rays for older pets. These procedures are done before any medications are given, to minimize the risk of anesthesic problems.
Once the physical examination was done, Cuddles received a sedative mixed with a pain reliever and was given some time to rest in her kennel.
After the sedative took effect, an IV catheter was placed to allow us to give the anesthetic medications, fluids and pain relievers during the procedure. This is also a safety measure. If Cuddles was to have any problems during her procedure, we have a secure IV access to give emergency drugs. (Cuddles had an uneventful anesthetic, by the way.)
The general anesthetic was started with an IV injection of medications, and then a breathing tube was placed into her windpipe to allow us to deliver oxygen and anesthetic gas. During a dentistry, the breathing tube is also very important for safety — it protects the lungs from the tartar and spray of the cleaning.
While the pets at Richmond Veterinary Clinic are under general anesthetic, our registered technicians monitor their vital signs including blood pressure. Anesthetic drugs often will make the blood pressure drop. By monitoring and giving intravenous fluids throughout the procedure, we can detect and treat any blood pressure changes.
The registered technicians also perform our dental cleanings. Here is Cuddles’ before picture:
Just like a dental hygienist cleans our teeth, the technicians cleaned Cuddles’ teeth using hand instruments and an ultrasonic descaler.
Once the tartar was removed, Dr. DeMille assessed Cuddles’ teeth using a probe.
The teeth were rinsed with a water spray.
And they were clean!
If there was no evidence of damage to the teeth or the bone, this would be the end of what is often called a ‘dental prophylaxis’ or ‘dental cleaning’.
Cuddles did require some further oral surgery by the veterinarian, more about how this was done tomorrow.
When we get to Grade 4, or advanced periodontal disease, we are looking at severe inflammation, pain and infection that could be affecting internal organs as well as the mouth.
The worst part? Many pets will hide the signs of dental disease until it is this advanced. Unless you are looking, you may not see earlier signs.
I’ve seen a dog on emergency that had an obvious problem with its jaw. The poor little thing had its mouth open, and could not close it. When I looked inside, I saw a tooth that had become dislodged from the socket, but was still partially attached. The shocked owners had not noticed a problem with this dog until rotten teeth were falling out.
At this stage, there is obvious odour all the time. Your pet is in pain, and is showing signs of slowing down, sleeping more and is probably becoming a ‘picky’ eater. There may be drooling, pawing at the mouth or a lot of lip-licking as well.
Teeth may have infections and abscesses, which can show up inside the mouth (arrow below), or as a lump under the eye.
Also, tooth roots are exposed, but this is often hidden by the tartar and inflammation.
In cats, you may notice that the gums and bony tissues over the upper canine teeth appear to be larger than they should be.
This pet needs antibiotics, dental surgery and pain relievers.
When we see one of these pets and the owners allow us to treat the dental disease, they are thrilled by the results. When we have the pet back for a recheck in 2 weeks, we are told about how this pet is acting years younger, is playing and acting like she used to.
It’s great to be able to help a pet and their family enjoy their life again.
As dental disease progresses, the tartar, inflammation and infection will continue to extend below the gumline and can start to change the bone and the teeth. This is considered to be moderate periodontal disease.
We will see gums that are red and bleeding, tooth roots that are either covered in tartar or exposed. Bad breath is consistent and there is dental pain. Sometime you will see changes in eating routines or other signs of the pain such as a vibrating jaw, pawing at the mouth, or slow eating. If your pet is quieter, less active and less playful it can be because of dental pain.
When the gums are bleeding like this, we know that bacteria in the mouth can get into the bloodstream easily and cause problems with the internal organs like the heart and kidneys.
At this point, some of the damage is irreversible and will require that teeth be removed. This is oral surgery, and requires pain relievers and often antibiotics as well.
Pet owners are concerned about the removal of teeth, worried that their pet will not be able to eat properly afterwards. A diseased tooth with an exposed root is painful. Your pet will avoid using that tooth to chew. Once the painful tooth has been removed, the gums will heal and the pet will be able to chew pain-free again.
Once the diseased teeth are extracted and the rest of the tartar and gingivitis is resolved, then daily dental care at home can still be beneficial for your pet.
If the teeth are not cleaned professionally when the signs of gingivitis are first present, then the tartar will continue to build above and below the gum line.
Grade 2 dental disease is when the gingivitis has progressed to early periodontal disease, and all of the gum tissue above the tooth is red, swollen and inflamed. It may bleed easily. Tartar is clearly visible and bad breath is present most of the time. The gums may be starting to recede away from the tooth.
Your pet may be showing subtle signs of dental pain. You may see chewing on one side or the other, jaw quivering when they chew on something hard or drink cold water. Most often, there are no outward signs of discomfort. Our pets instinctively hide the signs of pain.
At this point, the damage is usually reversible if the teeth are professionally cleaned promptly. I’ll go into the steps of a professional dental cleaning and show you how we perform these procedures at Richmond Veterinary Clinic next week.
Starting tooth care at home is recommended after the teeth have been treated. If you start to brush teeth when your pet has Grade 2 dental disease, it will cause discomfort.
When I look into your pet’s mouth, I am assessing the teeth, the gums and the other structures present inside the mouth. I look for discolourations, swellings, discharge and the position and condition of the teeth.
Dental disease in pets is graded by number from zero (0) to four (4).
The images and some amazing online pet dental information are all courtesy of Dr. Jan Bellows, and used with permission.
Grade 0 is what we see in a puppy or kitten mouth, with the teeth well aligned and clean. There is no tartar visible, and no redness or swelling of the gums.
The first stage of dental disease is Grade 1, gingivitis. This is when we do not see much change in the teeth, but there is redness in the gums. You may notice bad breath. Grade 1 dental disease indicates that the gums have been affected by tartar and plaque that is starting to extend below the gum line.
At this point, all of the damage is reversible with a professional dental cleaning. Tooth brushing will not remove the plaque and tartar that is below the gumline. If the tartar is not removed at this time, then it will continue to accumulate and the dental disease will progress.
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