What is dental disease?

Dental disease begins with a build-up of bacteria in… your pet’s mouth. Bacteria, combined with saliva and food debris, can cause plaque to accumulate on the tooth.

As calcium salts are deposited, plaque turns to tartar (brown or yellow material starting near the gum line of the tooth).

Without proper preventive or therapeutic care, plaque and tartar build-up lead to periodontal disease, which affects the tissues and structures supporting the teeth.

Periodontal disease can cause oral pain, tooth loss, and even heart or kidney problems.

Common signs of dental disease, in order of severity, include: 

  • Yellow-brown tartar around the gumline
  • Inflamed, red gums
  • Bad breath
  • Change in eating or chewing habits (especially in cats)
  • Pawing at the face or mouth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Pain or bleeding when you touch the gums or mouth

If your pet is showing any of these signs of dental disease, please book an appointment to see one of our veterinarians. Early assessment and action can save your pet’s teeth.

How can you prevent dental disease in your dog or cat?

Long-term control and prevention of dental disease requires regular home care. The best way to begin this is to accustom your pet from an early age. Dental home care may include:

Brushing teeth daily – just like us! This is the best form of dental hygiene. Pet toothbrushes and toothpaste are now available. Please do not use human toothpaste on your pet as they are not designed to be swallowed and may be toxic.

Feed pets’ raw meaty bones or special dental diets as this can help to reduce the accumulation of tartar. Remove the bone once the meaty parts have been chewed off to prevent the pet splintering the bone and potentially cutting its throat (common injury). Ingested bones can also cause constipation.

Use dental toys, enzymatic chews, or teeth cleaning biscuits, all of which can help to keep the teeth clean.

What does a professional dental clean involve?

Regular and frequent attention to your pet’s teeth may avoid the need for a professional dental clean under anaesthetic and will also improve your pet’s overall health.

It is the same as a scale and polish done by a dentist for humans. However, unlike us, our pets won’t sit still or open their mouth to allow a comprehensive cleaning of their teeth.

For this reason, our pets need to have a general anaesthetic for a professional dental clean.

Firstly, your pet will be assessed by one of our veterinarians. The degree of dental disease will be assessed to determine if extractions, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories will be required.

The assessment may also include a physical exam, blood tests and urine tests to ensure they are healthy prior to having an anaesthetic.

We also recommend dental X-rays to assess if there is any damage to your pets teeth under their gums. We use a specialised X-ray unit that can X-ray each individual tooth and its roots within the jaw.

Once anaesthetised, we can give the teeth a thorough clean using our specialised dental equipment.

If your pet requires tooth extraction, we may provide him/her with a dental block using a local anaesthetic to reduce the feeling of the tooth being removed.

When your pet goes home we will also discuss methods of reducing dental disease in the future.

After the dental procedure

After the dental procedure, it is advised to monitor your pet’s behaviour to look for signs of pain or discomfort.

If there has been tooth extractions or infection, your pet may require medication.

If you have any difficulties giving the medication, please contact us as soon as possible as there may be an alternate form that we can give you.

If your pet has had an anaesthetic, please treat them like a human patient and let them rest to recover. See the anaesthesia page for more information.

Your pet may be able to walk, however they should not be encouraged to be active and should eat small meals frequently for the first 12 hours (approximately ¼ of the size of their normal daily portion every 4 hours). Always ensure plenty of water is available unless directed otherwise by your vet.

Here are two images that depict a dogs teeth before and after they have been professionally cleaned.