Veterinary dental surgery provided at the Plantation Pet Health Center (PPHC) includes dental services for teeth cleaning and polishing, tooth extractions and minor oral surgery.
Veterinary Dental Surgery and Dental Care for Pets
Veterinary dental surgery provided at the Plantation Pet Health Center includes dental services for teeth cleaning and polishing, tooth extraction, and minor oral surgery. Pets can experience the same oral health problems that we do, such as plaque, tartar (or calculus), gum disease, and tooth loss. Periodontal disease (gum disease), however, is five times more likely to occur in pets than in people. Over 80% of pets over age 3 suffer from periodontal disease, which if left untreated, can lead to tooth loss and other illnesses.
Most pets will continue to eat and drink normally even if they have dental pain, so it often goes unnoticed. Be sure to inspect your pet’s mouth periodically for signs of dental disease, including bleeding or redness along the gum line (gingivitis) and brownish buildup (tartar) on the teeth near the gum line. Other signs of dental problems in pets may include:
- Bad breath
- Chewing difficulty
- Loose teeth
- Pawing the mouth
Keeping your pet’s teeth healthy should include:
- Daily brushing
- Feeding quality food
- Regular oral exams and cleanings
- Giving your pet teeth-cleaning treats and chew toys
Any tartar that does build up on the teeth and under the gum line can only be removed during a professional veterinary dental cleaning.
Dental Cleaning for Pets
Dental cleaning (prophylaxis) for pets begins with an initial oral examination of your pet’s teeth. During the oral exam, your vet will check for:
- Swollen, red, or bleeding gums
- Gum recession
- Broken, discolored, or missing teeth
- Malocclusions (misaligned teeth)
- Jaw problems
- Swollen lymph nodes (indication of infection)
Findings from the initial oral exam will determine if your pet needs any treatment in addition to the cleaning and polishing procedure. Preanesthetic blood testing is highly recommended to identify any medical conditions which could pose potential problems during anesthesia and to ensure that your pet is able to safely undergo anesthesia.
Dental cleaning for pets is performed under general anesthesia in order to effectively probe below the gum line and treat any dental problem discovered. Depending on the condition of your pet’s teeth, dental cleaning can include:
- Removing plaque and tartar from teeth (scaling) and under the gums
- Irrigating under the gums to remove bacteria
- Probing dental sockets to evaluate dental disease
- Removing dead gum tissue
- Taking dental radiographs (x-rays) to determine if problems exist below the gum line
- Polishing teeth to create a smooth surface making it more difficult for bacteria and plaque to adhere
- Applying fluoride or liquid sealant
- Extracting or treating infected or fractured teeth
- Inspecting the mouth for growths or other medical problems
After a dental cleaning, your pet will be monitored during recovery and should be able to return home the same day and eat and drink normally, unless other procedures have been performed.
Most pets need oral evaluation and professional dental cleaning once a year, but Doc Martin may make other recommendations based on your pet’s age, health, breed, and condition of teeth.
Veterinary Dental Extraction
Veterinary dental extraction may be necessary in some cases where dental problems have progressed too far or are unresponsive to treatment, exhibit chronic pain, or are causing other medical issues. Common reasons for pet tooth extraction include:
- Serious decay or infection (periodontal disease)
- Odontoclastic resorptive lesions (painful, destructive lesions within the tooth)
- Inflammatory disease
- Teeth overcrowding
- Retained deciduous teeth (baby teeth that do not fall out)
- Fractured or abscessed tooth in which a root canal or other endodontic procedure is not appropriate
- Mobile (loose) tooth, which often occurs due to bone loss
- Oral trauma
Our goal at Plantation Pet Health Center is to save the pet’s tooth if possible; however, when extraction is required, the procedure is performed under general anesthesia to minimize pet discomfort and to ensure that the root or roots of the tooth are completely removed.
Dental radiographs are an extremely important step in the tooth extraction procedure. Dental x-rays will allow your vet to determine any unusual anatomy or root pathology that could affect the dental extraction, as well as confirm post-surgery that the entire root has been successfully removed.
For a single root tooth, a dental elevator is used to separate the periodontal ligaments and allow the tooth to be removed with extraction forceps. Teeth with multiple roots, such as molars, are divided into sections so that each root can be removed individually.
Because of their complex structure, a pet’s teeth can have roots up to 2-3 times the length of the crown. Tooth extraction, therefore, is a delicate procedure that needs to be handled with precision and care. The bone surrounding the tooth will also be treated at the time of the extraction procedure.
After tooth extraction, the open sockets (alveoli) are closed with absorbable sutures which:
- Allows for faster healing
- Results in fewer complications
- Is more comfortable for your pet
Post-Extraction Care for Pets
After your pet’s tooth extraction, sterile gauze may be placed at the extraction site in order to stop the bleeding, which may last for several hours. In other cases, sterile absorbable wound packing foam may be inserted. Your vet will prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection, analgesics to relieve pain, and anti-inflammatory medication if needed. At-home care after extraction includes:
- Limit pet’s activity for 3-5 days
- Offer water upon arriving home, but wait a few hours before feeding your pet
- Feed your pet a soft diet for 2-5 days following extraction
- Do not give your pet hard bones or chew toys until after your post-extraction appointment
- Soften dry food with water while your pet is healing
Be sure to make a follow-up appointment with your vet 7-10 days after surgery to have the extraction site checked
During the healing period, you should contact our office if your pet experiences any of the following symptoms:
- Increased or heavy bleeding
- Excessive swelling or redness
- Bad breath
- Change in behavior or eating habits
- Pus at extraction site
- Nose bleeds
Most pets have no trouble eating shortly after a tooth extraction (usually the evening of the procedure or the next morning) and experience a complete recovery, able to eat as they did prior to the extraction procedure. If your pet is displaying signs of dental problems, contact our office for an evaluation.
If you would like to learn more about veterinary dental surgery and dental care for pets from the Plantation Pet Health Center, please call 972-731-0001 to schedule an appointment or complete an Online Appointment Request.