Oral Health

Dental Scale and Polish

At Canning Vale Veterinary Hospital, we believe that oral health and hygiene is extremely important to keep your pet healthy on a long term basis. We educate our clients about the best ways to minimise the occurrence of dental plaque and gum disease.

The importance of healthy gums and teeth

Teeth are the first organ system in a pet’s body that breaks food into small pieces that get mixed with saliva and swallowed via theeosophagus to be delivered into the stomach. Dogs and cats use their front teeth (Incisors and Canines) to lift/bite the food whilst the back teeth (Premolars and Molars) break the food into smaller particles that get mixed with saliva to make aneaier transfer to the stomach through the food pipe (eosophagus). The stomach further breaks down the food in smaller molecules with the help of gastric juices. These small food particles are now ready to be absorbed by small intestines and we call them nutrients (Amino acids/Proteins, Glucose/Carbohydrates, Essential Fatty acids/lipds, Vitamins, minerals and electrolytes).

A MOUTH WITHOUT HEALTHY TEETH is going to cause lot of problems for the whole of the gastrointestinal tract absorption process, and can result in malnutrition even if you are feeding a balanced diet to your pets. Poorly chewed food can also cause defaecation issues like diarrhoea or constipation.

How do teeth and gums become unhealthy?

Our pets do not have the ability to brush their teeth. However, nature designed them to bite tand chew their food. These days our pets do not have much access to natural food, and almost all pets in our society are fed biscuits or wet food. This minimises the natural scaling/cleaning of the teeth that occurs when biting hard food such as bones. Usually after 2-3 years of age food starts getting stick to the teeth close to the gums. Be mindful that the mouth is one of the biggest habitatsfor pathogenic/non-pathogenic bacteria, and these bacteria interact with trapped food to allow them to multiply on teeth. They secrete a range of chemicals to build their own housing system/colonies on the teeth, and keep on multiplying to make a solid biofilm on teeth which is know as TARTER or PLAQUE. This tarter carries billions of bacteria. Since the tarter always begins from the part of the teeth which is very close to gums, the bacteria start using the gums as a source of nutrients. This means thst they start eating the gums and causing inflammation which is known as gingivitis and which often results in a destruction of the gum line that we call it recession of the gums. This then exposes the tooth canals (see the images) so that the teeth are very prone to fall apart and can be very painful for the pet.

These pets often refuse to eat biscuits and prefer wet food over dry food. They also bleed from the gums and their breath is often very unpleasant. This smell is the outcome of gum/tooth decay caused by bacterial actions during their multiplication process.

Does oral health of pets affect their internal health?

The answer is YES. These bacteria exfoliate from the tarter while the animal chews their food, and they get mixed with chewed food and saliva and reach the stomach. Hydrochloric acid in the stomach kills bacteria, but some escape by using various strategies. After passing from the stomach they reach the small intestines where they can directly cause enteritis (malabsorption, diarrhoea). These bacteria also can enter the circulatory system from the intestine and gets localised in other organs like the HEART and KIDNEYS and affect these organs adversely.

CUTTING the story short……………….poor dental health can cause very serious and severe problems to a dogs, cats and rabbits.

Clients often raise their eyebrows when they are givena quote for tooth extraction. Removing a molar tooth with 2 roots is no less complicated than other surgery, because it includesanaesthesia and suturing the gum lines together after removing a molar or premolar to avoid serious infections. This procedure also takes a lot of time and increases the anaesthesia duration which puts your pet at more risk. Inhalant anaesthetics affect the kidneys quite adversely. These dogs also need antibiotics and pain relief medications, which adds to the cost. These things can cost up to $2000 or more.

Tips to keep your dog and cat’s teeth healthy

  1. Do not feed a lot of wet food to your pet.
  2. Feed good quality biscuits like Hills or Royal Canin dental biscuits after the age of 4 or 5 years or at the very beginning of plaque formation.
  3. Give raw meat with appropriate sizeduncooked bones (can vary according to the dog’s size). Adequate chewing is always good for teeth.
  4. Practice early dental cleaning (Dental Scale & Polish).
  5. Use quality dental chews (those made by Boehringer are the best to my knowledge).
  6. Try brushing yourpet’s teeth……….we do sell tooth brushes and paste at Canning Vale Vet.

Free Dental Checks:

Our nurses and vets are always ready to have a look at the teeth of your pet. However, if you can see plaque that means it needs cleaning under general anaesthesia.