3626 North Elm Street
Greensboro, NC 27455
Open Mon-Fri: 7:30 am - 6 pm,
Sat: 8 am to 12 pm
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Dog Dental Care - Bad Breath, Teeth Cleaning, Dog Dentist

dog dental xrayIt is important to realize that your dog will never tell you when it is experiencing dental pain. All dogs will endure some level of dental disease and dental pain during their lives. The best way to minimize these issues is for your dog is to start out with a great dental health routine at home. This should be supplemented with regular dental cleanings performed by the veterinary professionals at North Elm.

Proper dental care at home consists of daily brushing. Just as with humans, dogs need the plaque and biofilm removed from their teeth on a daily basis to avoid dental disease. The vast majority of dogs will accept daily brushing by their owners. We are here to teach you how to brush your dog's teeth and provide you with the best brush and dental paste according to your dog's size and flavor preference. It can be a bonding experience for owners to brush their dog's teeth and the dog may come to really enjoy the process. However, not every dog will tolerate and not every person is willing or able to brush their dog's teeth, we can work with you to find the next best solution for home care.

The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) lists many dog diets and treats that can be helpful if your dog will not tolerate brushing (vohc.org). These approved diets and treats provide some supplemental dental care. However, just as humans require regular dental care to maintain proper dental health, it takes more than a chew toy to properly care for your canine companion's mouth, gums and teeth.

During your regular veterinary visits, we will examine your dog's teeth and will show you the obvious lesions that need to be addressed. We are most concerned with signs of gingivitis, broken teeth, periodontal disease and other painful dental and oral lesions. Our doctors may recommend a veterinary supervised dental cleaning.

We have compiled some helpful hints and information about dog dental care for you here. This information is not meant to serve as a diagnostic or treatment tool, but can help you become aware of the proper way to facilitate adequate doggie dental care.

Dog Bad Breath, A Sign Of Things To Come

Some people think that dog bad breath is a trait inherent to the canine species. This is a myth that dogs themselves have contributed to over the years through behaviors including drinking from the toilet, eating feces, and self-grooming habits. However, these practices alone do not account for dog bad breath. Dog bad breath is generally a result of the bacteria that live in the infected gum and dental tissue in your dog's mouth. This odor is a sign of progressive dental disease. It will not get better without a thorough veterinary dental cleaning and a proper home care plan.

Signs And Symptoms Of Dog Dental Issues

The best way to prevent dog dental issues is to be proactive. Part of this process includes periodic dog teeth cleaning, but the other part requires vigilance on your part as the dog's owner. If your dog displays any of the following symptoms, you should schedule a veterinary appointment ASAP:

  • Bad breath / Halitosis
  • Problems eating, loss of appetite (only in the most severe cases)
  • Red, swollen, bleeding gums (usually the molars in the back of the mouth)
  • Loose, broken, missing teeth
  • Blood in saliva or nasal discharge
  • Lesions in mouth

Featured Quote:

A lot of pet owners don't even realize that there's a painful tooth, or that the gums are infected, and report after having a dental cleaning or a tooth extracted that the pet is feeling much better, is brighter, overall just seems to have much more energy and is much happier at home.

Video Transcript:

Good dental care does more for your dog and cat than just improve its breath. At North Elm Animal Hospital, we practice advanced veterinary dentistry to keep your pet healthy and prevent periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease begins as bacteria in the mouth and leads to plaque formation, which if not removed becomes tartar. As tartar accumulates under the gumline, it causes gingivitis and eventually loss of the bone and gingiva around the teeth. This condition is painful and badly affected teeth may require extraction. Regular cleaning and home dental care can help prevent periodontal disease.

Nearly three-quarter of cats over the age of five develop resorptive lesions, the cause of which is unknown. These painful lesions start below the gumline and cause the dentin of the teeth of erode. The only treatment for these cats is to extract the affected teeth.

It's always surprising to ask us veterinarians how much better pets do after dental cleanings and extractions. A lot of pet owners don't even realize that there's a painful tooth, or that the gums are infected, and report after having a dental cleaning or a tooth extracted that the pet is feeling much better, is brighter, overall just seems to have much more energy and is much happier at home.

So how are dental cleanings and oral surgery performed? The first steps are an oral exam, physical exam and pre-anesthetic blood testing. Your pet will be given some pre-anesthetic sedation and an intravenous catheter is placed. Your pet is then put under general anesthesia with our state-of-the-art equipment and monitored very closely by our technicians. Full mouth radiographs, or X-rays, are taken of every patient. Without these radiographs, up to 30% of dental lesions will be missed. The teeth are cleaned and polished much like your teeth are cleaned. Any abnormalities are charted and the veterinarian reviews the X-rays and the teeth.

The veterinarian then performs any extractions or other oral surgery. Your pet will be given pain medications and antibiotics as needed, and will usually go home the same day.

Just look at the difference in this pet's smile. We want your pets to have a long, happy, healthy life and their smile is a big part of that.

What A Veterinarian Is Looking For During A Dog Dentistry Examination

During an oral exam, a veterinarian looks for any signs of abnormality or ill health. Veterinarians are trained to spot many different symptoms, including:

  • Overbite, underbite, malocclusion, teeth that don't fit together
  • Gingivitis and periodontal disease
  • Facial swelling
  • Tartar buildup
  • Fractured or broken teeth
  • Cavities
  • Abscesses

Our veterinarian will develop a customized plan of prevention or treatment based on what is found during the dental exam at your next visit.

Dog Dental Treatments

The dog dental care services provided here at North Elm Animal Hospital begin with an examination by one of our veterinarians. If dental issues are found in your dog's mouth, our veterinarian will explain the situation to you and recommend the appropriate dental procedure. During this procedure, once your dog is sedated, our veterinarians are able to conduct a more thorough exam including visualizing the entire oral cavity and throat area, probing gingival pockets to assess periodontal disease and dental x-rays. It is important to remember that half of the tooth is under the gum line. Therefore, it is imperative that x-rays are performed for complete assessment of the tooth. Quite often a tooth may look completely normal but the roots are abscessed and a great source of pain for your dog. We utilize all the tools necessary to make sure your dog is completely free of dental disease and pain.

Our veterinarians use a comprehensive 6-Step protocol when performing a standard dog dental treatment. This protocol can be amended depending upon factors including preexisting medical conditions, or based on information gleaned during the examination itself. However, for reference, our dog dental treatment protocol includes:

  1. General anesthesia, which is necessary in all cases for us to do a thorough dental examination and professional cleaning. We use only the safest anesthesia protocols. Your dog will be continually monitored during the entire procedure and post procedure for the safest and most comfortable experience.
  2. A complete dental exam will be performed before we begin any dental procedure. Dental radiographs are taken at this time. Dental radiology allows our veterinarians to view the internal anatomy of the teeth including the roots and surrounding bone. A thorough dental chart is used to record the dental health of your pet, and any procedures done during the dental cleaning.
  3. Ultrasonic and hand scaling to remove plaque and tartar above and below the gum line. A thorough scaling below the gum line is critical to the success of any dental cleaning, as this is where illness-causing bacteria hide.
  4. Polishing to smooth the surface of the teeth after scaling, making them resistant to additional plaque formation.
  5. Flushing to remove dislodged tartar, plaque and bacteria from the mouth.
  6. If it is determined that an infected or damaged tooth requires extraction, or there is a problem with the gums that must be addressed, then and only then will oral surgery be recommended.

Oral Surgery For Dogs

If oral surgery is necessary, it can provide your canine companion with a new lease on life. In these cases, your dog is dealing with significant pain and is compensating for it in a variety of ways. Our veterinary staff is capable of resolving a variety of oral maladies, including:

  • Gingival surgery - including tumor removal and removal of excessive gum tissue secondary to periodontal disease
  • Extensive extractions of impacted or damaged teeth
  • Oral tumor removal

Our dog dental facility allows our veterinarians to precisely perform whatever oral surgical procedure is necessary, in order to help your canine companion live, or regain a healthy and happy quality of life.

The Harsh Reality Of Periodontal Disease In Dogs

Periodontal disease in dogs is the most common clinical condition occurring in adult canines. By three years of age, most dogs have some evidence of periodontal disease. Unfortunately, other than bad breath, there are few signs of periodontal disease in dogs evident to dog owners and professional diagnosis often comes too late to prevent extensive damage. Periodontal disease in dogs, if left untreated, will lead to infected, non viable teeth and significant dental pain. When dogs have to undergo multiple dental extractions for severe periodontal disease, their owners always report back that they feel so much better after their surgery.

We cannot overstate the fact that periodontal disease in dogs is fully preventable. The way to successfully do so is to schedule annual dog dental exams and dog teeth cleaning appointments as your veterinarian deems neccessary. By doing so, you are ensuring that your canine companion remains at a low risk for developing periodontal disease.

How To Schedule Your Dog's Dental Appointment

Scheduling an appointment with one of our veterinarians is as easy as picking up the phone, or sending us an email. The NEAH staff is here to help make your dog's dentistry appointment easy for you, while making it as painless and pleasant as possible for your canine companion.

Contact Us Today To Schedule Your Dog Dental Care Appointment

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