One of the most common problems we find in pets is dental disease; gingivitis, tartar and rotten teeth are common clinical findings, often the owner is unaware of the problem as animals are so good at hiding oral pain. They have evolved to hide pain and continue eating for as long as they can as this is obviously crucial for survival in the wild.
Apart from the obvious pain associated with any kind of dental disease the bacteria present in the mouth act as a source of toxins and infection for other vital organs such as the heart, kidney and lung.
Unfortunately there is no such thing as an “anaesthetic free dental”, in order to fully assess the entire oral cavity and each tooth properly the animal must undergo a general anaesthetic. Often owners are reluctant to go ahead with a dental because they are worried about the risk of a general anaesthetic, especially in an older animal. However the use of appropriate pre-operative blood testing, intra-operative monitoring and gold standard anaesthetic protocols greatly increases the safety of the procedure. In addition to this with good post operative home care (pain relief and antibiosis provided where necessary) the benefit of a dental for an animal in need of one usually greatly outweighs the potential risk of the anaesthetic.
Frequently there is a marked improvement in demeanour and vitality after dental treatment in an older dog or cat.
Complete Oral Health Assessment & Treatment (COHAT) is the correct term for a “dental” in animals. General anaesthesia allows a complete oral examination for any lesions or growths, assessment of the entire gum line and each individual tooth. Any problem teeth can be extracted and all the tartar/calculus (hard brown deposits on teeth that cannot be brushed off once formed) is scaled away and the remaining healthy teeth are then polished. All of the findings and treatments are recorded on a dental chart and on discharge we can go through this with the owner and advise on the proper home care to maintain this essentially “new” set of teeth and gums!
80% of dogs, cats and rabbits have dental disease by the time they are 3 years old!
40% of cats with a normal oral exam have lesions that show up on dental x rays (Feline Tooth Resorptive Lesions)
Dental disease is the most common problem found in rabbits and is primarily due to poor/incorrect diet. Although the problem is entirely preventable through proper husbandry and diet a dental procedure is usually necessary to get the teeth back to their correct size and shape and allow the rabbit to eat again. Bad teeth in rabbits lead onto a whole host of other serious problems including abscesses, dehydration, malnutrition and gut stasis.