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Dental Care

By the age of three, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of dental disease.

Dental disease is the most frequently diagnosed health condition in dogs and cats today. Dental disease is dangerous, leading to pain, infection, tooth loss, and more. Oral bacteria can also enter a pet's bloodstream and harm other vital bodily systems. The good news is, many of the health concerns related to dental disease can easily be managed and prevented with routine dental exams, dental cleanings, and at-home care.

Dental disease is caused by plaque and tartar build-up. As plaque accumulates, oral bacteria causes inflamed gums and infection. After mixing with food particles and saliva, some of the plaque hardens as it dries. This hard deposit is called tartar, and like plaque, it contributes to dental disease.

Common Symptoms of Dental Disease:

  • Bad breath
  • Discolored teeth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Teeth chattering
  • Nasal discharge
  • Irritability


Dental Exams & Cleanings

Since all pets are at risk for developing dental disease, we perform comprehensive dental exams during every wellness visit. This gives our veterinarians a chance to check your pet's teeth and gums for symptoms of dental disease and make an assessment on your pet's dental health. Typically, we recommend dental cleanings every one to two years to effectively prevent dental disease and protect your pet from the painful infections it causes.

Dental cleanings are performed under general anesthesia. This is for the safety of your pet and our medical team. All pets under anesthesia are safe and closely monitored. All pets under anesthesia are safe and closely monitored. Pre-surgical blood work is performed to ensure your pet can handle the effects of anesthesia.


Dental Radiology

Complete dental health cannot be assessed without the help of dental radiographs. More than half of your pet's teeth are below the gum line. This means painful oral conditions may be left unseen during an exam! At South Putnam Animal Hospital, we use dental radiography to detect jaw and tooth fractures, abnormal roots, tumors, abnormal, missing, or dead teeth, and foreign objects lodged in the gums.


Oral Surgery

Depending on the severity of dental disease, some pets may require a dental procedure to fully alleviate pain, discomfort, and infection. Your pet will come to our facility the morning of his or her procedure, and will be under general anesthesia during the procedure. Modern anesthetic techniques are very safe.

During your pet's dental procedure, each tooth will be cleaned with an ultrasonic scaler and polished. Any infected, loose, or damaged teeth may be extracted. Usually, your pet is discharged the same day. Specific aftercare instructions will be given to you when you pick up your pet. We recommend that an at-home dental care routine be continued to help prevent future plaque and tartar build-up.


At-Home Care

Pets need their teeth brushed regularly, too! If possible, brush your pet's teeth once a day. If you can’t fit daily brushing into your schedule, aim to brush your pet's teeth a few times a week. Be sure to use a pet-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste. Human toothpaste can be toxic to pets! If your pet is resistant to at-home brushing, there are alternative options like treats, rinses, and dry foods.