Pets Need Dental Care Too

Just like us, animals can get plaque buildup. This build up is made up of a biofilm of bacteria. Plaque turns into tartar, which cause damage, such as tooth loss, bad breath, periodontal disease and oral pain. Our pets cannot tell us when their tooth hurts, so having your pet’s teeth checked by your veterinarian is the best way to check for early signs of a problem.

The tooth is just the tip of the iceberg, a healthy looking tooth can be badly infected and the owner may not know. Tartar above the gum line can often be easily seen and removed, however 60% of the tooth is under the gum line and disease under the gum line is found in more than 50% of pets that we treat. Dental x-rays are required to evaluate oral disease and determine treatment options.

Regular dental cleanings can help prevent pain and suffering caused by dental disease. Most owners don’t brush their pets teeth regularly or often enough. Consider what a person’s teeth would look like if brushed as often as their pet’s teeth. That is why regular dental cleanings under general anesthesia is necessary. Gingivitis and periodontitis can develop when plaque and tartar build up underneath the gums. This type of periodontal disease could lead to tooth loss. In addition, there can be issues of the gums and bones that hold the teeth in place. Untreated they can damage internal organs in addition to the mouth. Other health problems found in association with periodontal disease include kidney, liver, and heart muscle changes.

The American Animal Hospital Association recommends that annual cleanings start at age 1 for cats and small to medium breed dogs, and at age 2 for larger dogs.

Here are some things to look for when considering a dental cleaning for your pet:

Anesthesia: Non-anesthetic Pet Dentistry (NAD) if often promoted as a money saving alternative that is less invasive. The American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC), the American College of Veterinary Anesthesia (ACVAA) the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the Veterinary Information Network Dentistry Consultants have concluded that NAD has no therapeutic benefit and can potentially harm the animal patients. Just say no to NAD.

Premedication pain control: Allows for a smooth and easy beginning so the pet feels relaxed before catheter placement.

Intravenous Catheter and Intravenous fluids : Allows access to administer anesthesia and any additional medication and ensure the pet’s blood pressure is stable and organs are kept healthy.

Digital Dental X rays: The only way to assess your pets teeth is to take x rays of them.  This is mandatory and in my opinion a pet should not have dentistry done without it.

Warming System: Ensures the pet’s core temperature never drops below normal range during and after surgery.

Dental Nerve Blocks: Reduces pain during oral surgery reducing the need to increase general anesthesia.

Ultrasonic Dental Scaler: Using high frequency sound waves this type of scaler will vibrate plaque and tartar off the tooth and along the gum line.

Dental Polisher: Removes tough stains and smooths enamel.

Laser Therapy: Laser treatment helps to reduce inflammation and pain after dental surgery.

Gary Zinderman, DVM, CVA, the owner of Indian Street Animal Clinic, offers a fully equipped dental suite for cleanings and oral surgery. His office is located at 1233 SE Indian Street, 101 in Stuart. For more information on holistic care for your pet, call 772-781-9990 or visit

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