Veterinary Dental Center

Why Dental Care?


Why should I be concerned about my pet's teeth?

Dental disease is the most common, most diagnosed, most often- recognized health problem we see in our companion animals.

As in people, plaque and tartar build up on the teeth. This is formed by the food particles and bacteria, which combine with salivary secretions where the teeth rise above the gum line. If this plaque is allowed to accumulate unchecked, it eventually causes a variety of dental conditions that range from mild discomfort and bad breath, all the way to root abscesses and difficulty eating.

Consider the facts:

  • 85% of all dogs and cats three years of age and older have some degree of dental disease, that requires treatment and/or preventative care.
  • If untreated, periodontal disease may lead to systemic disease, which can shower the lungs and body with bacteria. Heart, liver, and kidney disease may result and lead to a shortened life for your pet.
  • Pet dentistry should not be an elective procedure, rather a required component of routine preventative care similar to annual vaccinations, intestinal parasite and heartworm testing and nutritional counseling.

What can you do?

Dental Care For Pets"Flip-a-lip". Gently lift a lip and look at your pet's teeth. Gum problems occur when bacteria accumulate at the gum line and in time will appear as a yellow or brown accumulation of tartar on the teeth. Soon the gum will become red or swollen and a disagreeable odor will be present in your pet's breath. If left untreated this will progress to an eventual tooth loss. Another common dental abnormality is chips or fractures on the tooth's surface. Chewing on items harder than your pet's teeth (i.e. bone, rocks, and cow hooves. …) may break teeth. Superficial chips usually cause no problems, however, tooth fractures that expose the pulp or root canal (you may notice a red or black spot on the tooth) allow bacteria to travel up the tooth, eventually leading to a tooth abscess.

Pet Dental CarePrevention of future dental problems begins at home. Caring for your pet's teeth at home certainly reduces the frequency of professional care. To help you care for your pet's teeth, we offer a variety of dental products. Our toothpaste and rawhide chews are designed to kill the bacteria associated with plaque. Hill's diet called T/D acts as an abrasive kibble that greatly reduces plaque as it is developing. Routine home care and annual oral examinations are two services you can provide for your companion.

Dental Treatment For Pets

What can we do?

Dental procedures are performed at River Heights Veterinary Clinic daily. Dental x-rays, ultrasonic scaling, polishing and periodontal surgery are some of the procedures we offer to our patients.

Each year your pet should receive an oral examination as part of their annual well pet examination. A complete oral examination is necessary in identifying abnormalities and forming a treatment plan. Many of the problems are quite apparent at this time while others must be evaluated using an anesthetic. With this in mind we complete a comprehensive oral examination and charting at the time of a teeth cleaning or dental prophylaxis.

Pet AnesthesiaAnesthesia allows us to evaluate each tooth free of any pain. Our dental suite has a centrally located gas anesthetic machine and patient monitoring system. We use a safe anesthetic protocol, one gentle enough to allow your pet to recover and return home the same day of the procedure.

A skilled veterinary technician uses an ultrasonic scaler and hand instruments to remove all the tartar and calculus from above and below the gum line. Once the teeth are clean a fluoride paste is used to polish the teeth smooth, making them more resistant to future tartar development.

A veterinarian using a periodontal probe and explorer performs a post cleaning examination. If a probe depth is greater than 2mm in dogs or 1mm in cats this indicates that periodontal disease is present and additional treatment is necessary to save the tooth.

Animal X-RayDental x-rays show the inside of the tooth and root. River Heights Veterinary Clinic uses the same dental radiograph machine found in your dentists' office. Many decisions are based on radiograph findings

Dog TeethProbing in our cat patients will identify feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORL). These dental resorptions are commonly referred to as cavities or cervical neck lesions. These are common in cats over 5 years of age, occur at or below the gum line, and can be quite painful.

Canine TeethCharting a patient's mouth is the recording of abnormalities in a pet's medical record for future reference or to design a treatment plan. Cats have 30 permanent teeth and dogs have 42 to keep track of.

The frequency of dental prophylaxis varies between each pet and is dependent on the stage of the disease and ability of a pet owner to offer preventative home care.

Our Goal?

Our goal is to make you aware of the benefits of regular dental care. Just as you brush your teeth and have them professionally cleaned for good overall health and appearance, your pet requires the same care. When needed we can safely anesthetize your pet, clean and polish their teeth, take dental x-rays and perform the advanced procedures your pet may need.