Many health problems start in the mouth. Plaque, tartar, periodontal disease, and infected teeth serve as a source of inflammation and infection for the rest of the body. Dental disease is also a source of pain. There are many ways that dog and cat owners can help their veterinarian provide a healthy mouth for their pet. Our dental services at Hickory Veterinary Hospital include teeth cleaning and polishing, tooth extractions and minor oral surgery.
Dental disease can occur in pets of all ages, but if your pet is 3 years or older, he/she likely has tartar and plaque build-up on the teeth and probably needs a dental cleaning. Older pets that lack preventive dental care and cleanings will have advanced tartar build-up and some degree of gum disease. The problem begins when plaque and tartar are allowed to build up on your pet’s teeth. Plaque harbors the bacteria which can infect gum tissue and the root system of the teeth. This causes pain and can result in healthy teeth having to be extracted because the root structure has been compromised.
Regular professional cleaning is important to maintaining your pet’s health at any age. Dental cleanings must be performed under general anesthesia in order to properly and safely examine and clean the teeth. We use modern and safe ultrasonic equipment; each tooth is thoroughly cleaned above and below the gum line. Dental technicians polish the teeth to create a smooth, lustrous surface more resistant to plaque buildup.
After the teeth are cleaned and polished, your veterinarian will perform a thorough oral exam and check each tooth for any signs of dental disease (gum loss, root exposure, pockets around the root). Extensive dental disease requires the tooth to be removed (extracted). Many teeth require oral surgery to safely remove each individual root. We have extensive training and experience to perform these procedures properly. Oral nerve blocks are performed and additional injectable pain medications are administered if teeth are extracted. Your pet will also be sent home with oral pain medication. Pets recover quickly following these procedures, and, once the gums have completely healed, they resume eating their regular dry kibble even when multiple teeth are extracted.