Impact of dental care:
What is the difference between your teeth and your pet’s teeth? The answer is, very little! Fractured teeth, tooth abscesses, infection and inflamed gums are painful in your mouth and theirs. The statistics are staggering!! A 2001 research study showed 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will have significant dental disease by the time they are 3 years old.
Oral disease serves as a constant seed of bacterial infection capable of transferring anywhere in the body by way of the blood stream, the highest risk sites being the heart valves and the kidneys. Nothing improves your pet’s longevity and quality of life more than proper dental care. An annual dental exam, cleaning, and appropriate therapy should be a foundational part of your pets health care.
Complete oral exam and uncomplicated cleaning:
After a thorough oral examination dental cleaning is performed with an ultrasonic scalar that removes plaque and tarter above and below the gum line. Polishing then smooths the enamel surface. This helps prevent tarter build up in the future. After cleaning, gum margins are examined for pockets, exposed roots or infection hidden under the gum-line and treated appropriately. The enamel is then coated with a sealant that will reduce reaccumulation of bacteria, debris and periodontal disease by 48% with continued once weekly application of the home sealant.
Grade 0: Healthy teeth that are free of visible disease. The gums are coral pink or shrimp color. This is the best time to start dental prevention. Mouth rinsing needs to be done every day. Home dental sealants (Oravet) should be applied once weekly. Hill's Prescription Diet T/D food is also an effective daily method of preventing dental disease.
Grade 1: Marginal Gingivitis is present, which causes redness along the gum line indicating inflammation and discomfort and mild tartar accumulation is present. We recommend an annual professional dental cleaning and prophylaxis with a sealant treatment. This includes the removal of tartar from the teeth above and below the gum line, flushing the gingival crevice and polishing above and below the gum line. After the dental procedure, we recommend applying CET Oral Hygiene Rinse daily to control bacteria, weekly use of OraVet Home Sealant. As a maintenance diet, we recommend tartar control food such as Hills Prescription Diet® Canine T/D®.'
Grade 2: Moderate gingivitis is present. Gum tissue is red and swollen, and bleeds when probed, mild accumulation of mineral deposits (calculus) also present. This chronic gingivitis is a long standing inflammation of the gums. This is the beginning of long-term gum disease and inflammation because bacteria are active under the gum line. Calculus is established and will potentiate the damage caused by the bacteria. We recommend an annual professional dental assessment, treatment and prophylaxis. The dental treatment includes the removal of tartar from the teeth above and below the gum line, flushing the gingival crevice and polishing above and below the gum line. At this stage, curettage of the dental sulcus is also recommended. Curettage removes debris above and below the gum line and revitalizes the gum tissue, which helps to promote healthy gums and impede tartar formation. After the dental procedure, we recommend applying C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Rinse daily to control the oral bacteria after cleaning, and then begin weekly use of OraVet home sealant. As a maintenance diet, we recommend tartar control food such as Hills Prescription Diet® Canine T/D®.'
Grade 3: Advanced gingivitis and presence of periodontitis. Pathology present includes red, swollen gum tissue, tartar is present above and below the gum line, receding gum tissue and pocket formation under the gum tissue (periodontitis) is found after examination under anesthesia. Bacterial activity has begun separating the tooth root from the gum tissue. This is the first stage of permanent loss of the bone that supports the tooth. We strongly recommend professional dental assessment, treatment and prophylaxis at least twice yearly until control is achieved. The dental treatment includes the removal of tartar from the teeth above and below the gum line, flushing the gingival crevice and polishing above and below the gum line. At this stage, curettage of the gum tissue is also highly recommended with the possibility of gingival flap surgery if pockets are deeper than 3-4 mm. To close subgingival pockets after curettage, a perioceutic antibiotic gel (Doxirobe Gel) is infused into small pockets, or Consil is used in large pockets to bind to both bone and tissue to close pockets. A three-day antibiotic treatment is needed prior to the dental procedure and will continue for a minimum of 14 days following the surgery. After the dental procedure, we recommend applying C.E.T. Dental Hygiene Rinse twice daily for 8 days to control the oral bacteria after cleaning, and then begin weekly use of OraVet Home Sealant and daily use of CET Oral Hygiene Rinse. As a maintenance diet, we recommend tartar control food such as Hills Prescription Diet® Canine T/D®.
Grade 4: Severe periodontal disease and advanced periodontitis is present. Pathology present at this stage includes all changes seen in Grade 3 conditions with the addition of abscessation around tooth roots, tooth mobility and bone destruction. Severe chronic infection of the gum tissue and alveolar bone creates a foul odor to the mouth due to the bacterial infection of the tissues. This stage of oral disease is associated with significant pain and spread of bacteria throughout the body. Radiographs commonly show a twenty-five percent loss of the jawbone itself. To regain good oral health and eliminate serious infection, a professional dental assessment, treatment and prophylaxis should be performed every 3 months until control is achieved. Initially, an extensive, thorough cleaning with extraction of unsalvageable teeth is performed, with gingival flap surgery, root planning, curettage, polishing and sealant application performed when and wherever appropriate. A three-day antibiotic treatment is needed prior to the dental procedure to help reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth and will continue for an extended period of time following the surgery. Home care will include CET Oral Rinse 2-3 times daily, and pulse antibiotic therapy as needed.
Dental Radiography: It is estimated that 70% of dental disease is present below the gum-line. Dental X-rays are essential to detect many of these problems and monitor chronic oral conditions.
Oravet: The application of OraVet plaque prevention gel once weekly at home will reduce plaque in your pet’s mouth by 48%. As the last step in a dental cleaning, your pet received OraVet sealant which creates an electrostatic barrier which repels tarter forming bacteria from attacking the teeth. Once the sealant has been applied the home gel significantly extends the preventative benefit. Apply as directed once every 7 days. Refill as needed. Remember, with continuous use OraVet will reduce your pet's plaque and bacterial build up by 48%.
Extractions / Nerve Blocks: Surgery to remove a tooth is necessary with advanced periodontal disease, dental fractures or in cases when malocclusion threatens the health if adjacent teeth as is the case with baby teeth that are not lost. The time required to remove a tooth is effected by degree of infection and number of tooth roots. Every extraction is preceded by blocking the nerve supplying the effected tooth. This results in good pain control after extraction and a faster recovery.
Dental Referrals: In the event your pet needs advanced dental care, Dr. Olson may refer you to a veterinarian with advanced training in veterinary dentistry. Crowns, root canals, restorations and advanced oral surgeries are typical procedures that are referred.
My Dog Loves to Have His Teeth Brushed!
Once daily brushing has been the goal, the "gold standard" of home dental care for a long time. But just like little children do not like to have their teeth brushed when you begin brushing their teeth for the first time, dogs and cats will object without fail the first time they feel the brush and taste the paste as well. Teaching your pet to accept a toothbrush, to consider it a normal activity, is a trained behavior involving a series of small steps over a period of time that yields tremendous benifits
Applying the classic training technique of positive reinforcement to learn this new behavior is very important in this situation. When an animal learns a behavior in order to acquire something it desires, the process is called positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcers are anything that, when paired with a behavior, tend to increase the likelihood that the behavior will be repeated. Common reinforcers used with pets are food and/or playtime. Our desired behavior is allowing the teeth to be brushed.
To start, determine what you are going to use as a reinforcer / motivator. This is actually determined by your pet. Figure out what they really want. Is it a food kibble, special treat, play time with a special toy, etc. The reinforcer should be given every time they complete the behavior successfully, and only if they complete the behavior successfully.
The process takes the owner and pet through a series of training levels with each level training a behavior that is needed to move to the next. Each of the levels begins with individual training sessions that are very mild and quick (mild pressure for 2 seconds), progressing slowly over a number of days until the pet is comfortable doing the behavior (firm pressure for 20 seconds). The pet should never be forced, but must do the behavior successfully and without a struggle to receive their reinforcer /reward. The reinforcer should always be given immediately upon completion of the behavior. Training sessions should be just a few times each day. Total training period may be 2-3 weeks or as long as 6 weeks. In general, the slower the progress, the more patient we are, the most successful and permanent the training.
Level One: Rubbing the outside of the mouth. Start this level with a light touch for just a few seconds, increasing pressure and length of contact gradually. Reward immediately after sitting quietly for desired behavior.
Level Two: Rubbing a soft object (finger or Q-tip) with an attractive flavor (peanut butter/garlic powder/tuna juice) on the gums of the mouth. Start the first session soft and short. Give the reward immediately when successful.
Level Three: Rubbing a soft bristled toothbrush or rubber finger brush with peanut butter/garlic powder/tuna juice on the gums and teeth. Here we use a familiar flavor, but introduce a new feeling. Increase pressure and time over several days
Level Four: Rubbing the toothbrush with beef or poultry flavored pet toothpaste on the gums and teeth. Continue the reinforcer for a few weeks after you are able to brush the teeth successfully with little resistance, and then taper the amount of times the reinforcer is given until the brushing itself (close interaction with you) actually becomes the reward.
Proper pet dental care at home will greatly improve your pet’s quality of life throughout its lifetime, and will significantly reduce your pet healthcare costs as well.