Imagine what your mouth would feel like if you never brushed your teeth or went to the dentist. For many dogs and cats, this is a painful reality. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have dental disease by the age of 3. Dental (or periodontal) disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem in pets.

Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition occurring in adult dogs and cats.  The good news is that it is entirely preventable.  Many dogs and cats develop periodontal disease by the age of three.  Some signs of periodontal disease are: gum redness and irritation, bleeding gums, bad breath, excessive drooling, lack of appetite, loss of interest in toys, loose teeth and tooth loss.

Periodontal disease starts when bacteria in the mouth attach to teeth to create plaque.  This plaque then hardens to make dental calculus, also known as tartar.  Tartar above the gum line is easy for pet owners to see but is not the cause of disease.  Periodontal disease develops when the enzymes the tartar creates goes under the gumline.  This process can cause gum inflammation, infection and bone loss.

During a dental cleaning at Oconomowoc Animal Hospital our experienced staff begin by using an ultrasonic scaler to remove the visible tartar.  Next we take a measurement of gum pocket depths.  This measurement helps us to determine if the teeth are still healthy under the gums.  A large pocket can indicate severe periodontal disease and a possibly compromised tooth.  Then we scrape the teeth under the gum line to remove harmful plaque and dental calculus.  Digital dental radiographs help our veterinarians evaluate your pet’s tooth roots and bone changes in their jaw.  Lastly, we polish your pet’s teeth.

All dental cleanings at Oconomowoc Animal Hospital are done with your pet under general anesthesia.  Your pet has an endotracheal (breathing) tube inserted and is administered Isoflurane, which is the same anesthesia used in human medicine.  The endotracheal tube helps maintain your pet’s airway and prevents any water used during the procedure from getting down into your pet’s lungs.  Our experienced technical team members perform all dental cleanings under careful guidance from our veterinarians. During all anesthetic procedures your pet has an IV cather in place to adminster fluids and is continually monitored for heart rate, breathing rate, blood oxygen level and blood pressure.

Please make an appointment at Oconomowoc Animal Hospital to discuss your pet’s oral health and learn more about what you can do with your pet at home to prevent periodontal disease.