Dental disease is a very big problem in our pets. It is to do with the feeding of poor quality pet food and a change in the mouth confirmation (dentition and abrasion) from over breeding or selecting specific genetic traits and forgetting about the teeth. At Vet HQ, we strive to provide a service similar to what your dentist and oral hygienist can offer.
Your pet depends on their teeth to eat and chew properly. Routine oral health care is the key to maintaining good teeth and gums. Dental disease is the number one disease of companion animals, and over 90% of dogs and cats will have some degree of dental disease by the time they are 3 years old.
The constant build up of plaque and bacteria will lead to tartar formation and gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). In turn, tartar and gingivitis lead to loose, painful teeth and halitosis (bad breath). It can also lead to tooth root involvement and cause teeth to become loose and need to be removed. Bacteria from the mouth can get into the bloodstream and can lead to infections of the liver, kidneys and heart valves.
The benefit of cleaning teeth is to identify and remove any teeth that may be causing pain. Oral pain is VERY hard to detect in animals as they cannot tell us, and for them to stop eating is to give up on survival. We only see this as a sign, in the most severe of dental disease cases where it is causing agony. The hope is that we will slow down any future loss of teeth.
This is why at Vet HQ, we encourage regular dental care for your pet. This care includes at home dental care and dietary recommendations as well as professional periodic cleanings.
Dental Disease Grades
Grade I: We begin to see the early signs of gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and there will be a small degree of plaque (staining on the teeth). Around the gums there may be a small amount of light red discoloration, but no regression.
Grade II: We begin to see advanced gingivitis and plaque build up below the gum line which may cause the gums to swell and recede slightly from the teeth.
Grade III: We begin to see early periodontal disease, with calculus build up under the gum line. There is significant inflammation with swelling of the gums and receding gum lines. Early irreversible bone loss around the teeth is also present.
Grade IV: This is the most severe, advanced periodontal disease. We see severe inflammation, recession of the gums, there will be loose or missing teeth and a puss-like discharge around the gums. There will also be irreversible bone loss around the teeth.
With Grade I and Grade II teeth, we can remove the tartar and clean under the gum line to prevent any further damage by doing a full scale and polish to clean away all the gingivitis. With Grade III and Grade IV teeth, we evaluate the degree of bone destruction and if any of the teeth are still stable, we can help by giving them a full professional clean, but unfortunately if any of the teeth are loose, they will need to be extracted.
Remember, prevention is the key – the more you do at home to help the teeth and the more frequently you get them cleaned, the longer your pet will have their teeth.
Dental Equipment at Vet HQ
We have state of the art IM3 dental machines and trained nurses to assist. We have dental radiology to ensure all hidden disease is noted and we will follow up with regular visits, dietary advice and supplement advice to ensure ongoing prophylactic care.
What The Dental Procedure Involves
Unfortunately, animals do not open their mouths and say AHHH! As a result a full general anaesthesia is recommended for a dental. A trained veterinary nurse or veterinarian will chart the mouth and note any issues such as cavities, periodontal disease, gingivitis, overcrowding or enamel disease.
Tartar is then removed with the IM3 42-12 Ultrasonic Scaler. This is the market leader machine in the world. Unlike other ultrasonic tooth scalers that use a ‘jack hammer’ approach to tooth scaling, this machine adopts a gentler technique with its revolutionary, rotational tip movement and ultrasonic removal of the plaque and calculus. This ensures no damage to the tooth and a superior clean.
Plaque disclosing solutions and UV light is used after the procedure to confirm the scale has been done completely. If extractions are required phone calls are always made first and are done by a veterinarian.
Local anesthetic nerve blocks are always used to reduce pain even though a full anaesthetic has occurred, and to improve recovery comfort. The IM3 Delux GS unit provides us with a high speed drill with LED light source, water and chlorhexadine antibacterial spray, and a low speed polishing device. This is the top of the range when it comes to dental prophylaxis products.
Vet HQ has the CR7 Vet Advanced Dental X-ray unit. We were one of the first in the country to have this machine. It offers us the ability to look under the gum and assess the damage and offer a more complete service. Similar to human dentistry, dental x-rays are now an integral component of pet treatment so we can look after not only the crown but the root as well.
Due to the cost, x-rays are not part of the routine service but should the need be there, we have the best machine available to do the job.
Post Op Medications
Antibiotics will be used should extractions occur or if there is significant gingivitis. This is to prevent bacterial translocation into the blood stream that could cause serious problems. Dental disease has been linked to kidney disease, cardiac disease and strokes in people. Pain relief will be dispensed should we feel your pet will be uncomfortable.
We offer service from Monday to Friday until 11pm. Should any concern occur once your pet is at home, you can always contact one of our vets. After 11pm we have cover by an emergency service. Just ring our number and you will get all the details.
Post Op Checks
Plaque has already built up on the teeth 20 minutes after brushing. This plaque will calcify and form calculus within weeks. As such, we offer several options to encourage adequate post operative care.
After 10 days we have a recheck consultation with the vet at no charge. At that time a UV light is used to highlight the plaque adherence. We then teach you, how to brush your pet’s teeth adequately and demonstrate at the time the success of brushing. We will talk about other ways to reduce plaque adherence. This includes raw bones (not cut in half), synthetic bones (Oravet), and Hills t/d diet.
Grade 1 Dental Program
We understand how hard it is to keep teeth clean. It is sometimes hard to brush our own teeth twice daily let alone your pet’s teeth. In our Grade 1 prophylactic dental program, we perform a full general anaesthetic, dental scale and polish every 6 months. This program is eligible for all existing clients who have had a dental procedure before.
We will automatically send you a reminder at six months for your pet’s next dental. This is the best way to ensure healthy teeth and gums, after all its what we do for our own teeth.
At Vet HQ we pride ourselves on practicing the most up to date techniques and understanding how to use the latest equipment to its maximum potential. One of our core values is education, and this will not be compromised.
Geoff has continued to invest in his own and his team’s further dental care education by attending specialist dental conferences. In 2018, Geoff even brought the dental specialists into Vet HQ to further train his team of nurses and vets, this is the first time this has been done in an Australian general practice.