Here at Bothell Pet Hospital, we have a passion for practicing good veterinary medicine and a true desire to advance our dental skills.
Recently our technicians attended a dental seminar at the Animal Dental Training Center in Baltimore focused on oral health, assessment, radiology, and treatment. The seminar was taught by Dr. Ira Luskin, an expert in the field of small animal dentistry. Following are just a few of the things they learned:
Did you know that puppies and kittens have a different number of baby teeth vs. adult teeth?
By 6 weeks, kittens have 26 baby teeth and puppies have 28. By 6 months, those baby teeth should be replaced by 30 adult teeth for kittens and 42 for puppies.
Sometimes those baby teeth don’t fall out on their own like they should by the age of 6 months. In those cases, it’s necessary to extract the baby teeth so the adult teeth can grow in their proper positions. During your pet’s spay or neuter, we’ll perform an in-depth oral examination to assess the situation.
We all know how cute those smush-faced dogs and cats are with their snaggle teeth hanging out, but did you know that’s actually a form of malocclusion (abnormal tooth alignment) and a precursor to increased oral issues?
Potential problems include traumatized teeth and soft tissue injury. Depending of the class of malocclusion (1-3), treatment may vary from a simple extraction of an incisor or baby tooth, to a more complicated extraction of an adult premolar or canine. Luckily for our pets, losing a tooth or two is a simple sacrifice to avoid future issues with periodontal disease.
What’s Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is inflammation and infection of the supporting structures of the teeth, including ligaments, gums, and bone. It’s the most common oral disease and the number one cause of tooth loss.
Over 85% of animals have developed some form of periodontal disease by the time they reach 3 years old. Some signs include halitosis (bad breath), decreased appetite, excessive salivation or drooling, oral discomfort, accumulation of plaque or tartar, and bleeding or inflamed gingiva, known as gingivitis.
Periodontal disease has four stages of gingivitis:
- Stages 1 & 2 are reversible with minor abnormalities.
- Stage 3 gingivitis can be stopped but the damage that has been done is irreversible.
- Stage 4 is irreversible and may require numerous extractions, as well as bi-annual checkups and yearly oral assessment & treatment under general anesthesia.
What Can You Do to Prevent Periodontal Disease?
It all starts with a dental exam by your veterinarian. Under general anesthesia, your pet undergoes a complete assessment of the oral cavity:
- Teeth are evaluated for abnormalities such as fractures, loose teeth, cavities, and enamel defects.
- The gums are probed for gingival pocketing which may indicate problems below the gum line.
- If any abnormalities are discovered, radiographs of the affected tooth are taken using Bothell Pet Hospital’s brand new dental x-ray machine.
- If radiographs reveal any problems, appropriate treatment is pursued. This may include therapeutic application of an antibiotic putty or tooth extraction.
- Once treatment is complete, your pet receives a thorough ultrasonic scaling and polishing just as you would at your own dental appointment.
Once your animal has had a dental cleaning, it’s maintenance time! The best defense against periodontal disease is brushing your pet’s teeth. Additionally, there are dental specific diets, treats, and rinses with enzymes that promote healthy teeth.