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Given the enormous recent progress in all aspects of pet health relating to common infections, parasites, nutrition and degenerative diseases, one of the commonest health issues seen in dogs and cats is dental disease. Periodontal (gum) disease caused by a buildup of plaque and tartar is arguably the number one preventable condition seen in modern veterinary practice.

Methods  of reducing plaque and tartar buildup include diet (e.g. Eukanuba dry foods with Dental Defence System), encouraging appropriate chewing  (especially raw meaty bones), in-water plaque retardants, and regular toothbrushing. These are discussed further below.

Please understand that in many instances, these methods are not likely to be useful unless the pet has a thourough veterinary assessment and often a proper, professional cleaning under general anaesthesia.

Please note, we are pleased to offer FREE dental checkups to assess your pet’s oral health.  Just ring to make an appointment.

Some Signs of Dental Problems Include:

  • Bad breath – one of the first signs of dental disease

  • A yellowish-brown crust of plaque/tartar on the teeth near the gum line

  • Red and swollen gums

  • Pain or bleeding when your pet eats or when the mouth or gums are touched

  • Decreased appetite or difficulty eating

  • Loose or missing teeth


What Happens During a Cleaning?

When we perform a dental prophylaxis on your dog it involves the use of an ultrasonic dental scaler to remove calculus (mineralized plaque) above and below the gumline, followed by polishing. This procedure, especially below the gumline is very important to prevent or reverse gum disease.

Your pet may be sleepy for several hours following their procedure, depending upon the time of day they had their anaesthetic and on the amount of pain medication required. They should be kept quiet, at a comfortable temperature and away from small children and other pets until they have recovered fully. Small drinks of water and a small meal are usually appropriate. Where there have been teeth extractions, chopped or minced meat, rather than canned or dry food, is the best option until the extraction sites are healing well (usually just a few days).

Dental Radiographs

An examination does not always reveal all sources of pain in an animal’s mouth; therefore, we always recommend full dental radiographs during periodontal treatment. A dental radiograph will help to diagnose disease and potential pain that may be occurring under the gums.

Extractions and Surgery

In some cases tooth extractions may have been required, and in most of those cases sutures have been placed in the gums. We will provide pain relief appropriate to your dog’s needs and we need to check the healing of the extraction sites in three days. This will usually be for no charge. Please make an appointment.


Prevention: The Best Medicine

Dental care does not end with a visit to your veterinarian. You need to continue your veterinarian’s good work at home. Brushing your pet’s teeth is an important part of home dental care. Trained veterinary staff can show you the proper method of brushing your pet’s teeth.

Like all other important medical issues for your dog, maintaining clean teeth needs to be individualized for each patient. We are only too happy to discuss your pet’s needs at all times.

How do I brush my dog's teeth?

Firstly, pick an appropriate tooth brush. Children’s toothbrushes are too hard for dogs gums. Ideally your dog’s toothbrush will have a long handle, an angled head to better fit the mouth and extra soft bristles or alternatively, a finger toothbrush that fits over the tip of your finger.

Secondly, choose an appropriate toothpaste. Pet toothpastes contain enzymes that help control plaque. Human toothpastes containing baking soda, detergent or salt should be avoided. Specifically formulated pet toothpastes incorporating fluoride or chlorhexidine will help to control bacteria.

Thirdly, get the brush and the toothpaste in your dog’s mouth. If approached in a gentle manner, most dogs will accept brushing. Starting when they are young will make it much easier, but even older, senior dogs, with quiet persistence, will accept the process. At first try using a facecloth or piece of towel to introduce your dog to the idea. Patiently wipe the teeth in the same manner you would as if using a toothbrush. Doing this twice daily for two weeks should familiarise your dog with the process. Then introduce the toothbrush or fingerbrush. When your dog accepts the brushing, introduce toothpaste.

Press the toothpaste into the toothbrush instead of leaving it on the top of the bristles. This allows the toothpaste to spend more time next to the teeth as opposed to introducing a large amount to one place in the mouth.

Place the bristles at a 45 degree angle where the teeth meet the gums . Brush the teeth in an oval pattern around the base of the teeth (where the teeth meet the gums) and also make sure to exert pressure in the spaces between the teeth. Most attention should be given to the outside surface of the teeth with at least ten short back and forth motions on all surfaces.

Actively brushing your dogs teeth daily using an enzymatic/antibacterial toothpaste will help reduce dental disease, bad breath and potential life threatening heart and kidney disease.

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