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Dental Care

The science of dental medicine and care in veterinary medicine has changed and improved dramatically in the past 10-15 years. By realizing the role that dental health plays in the overall health of our pets, we can concentrate our efforts by providing the best overall care for our pets through the proper treatment and prevention of dental disease. The correction of dental disease and infection in the mouth will help minimize secondary infections to the rest of the body that originate from the mouth.

Before After

Tartar build-up prior to dental

Same teeth after a dental cleaning

Dental disease starts with plaque, which is the soft film which forms on the enamel of the teeth. Plaque is easily removed by physical means such as brushing or chewing on hard, abrasive surfaces. Although hard food diets help with some of the cleaning, they fall short in effectiveness when compared to brushing. As plaque begins to mineralize and harden, it becomes Tartar. Tartar is the hard “baked-on” substance which forms on the surface of the teeth and is the most noticeable to us as pet owners.

Saliva helps to control bacteria levels in the mouth, but as tartar grows, it allows the bacteria to hide beneath and multiply away from the saliva. This bacterial growth leads to the inflammation and infection of the gum line called gingivitis. If the gingivitis is allowed to persist, it will cause gingival recession and deep “pockets” that in turn expose the tooth roots and jeopardizes the health of the teeth. Because gingival recession is an irreversible condition, it is important that we intervene with a dental cleaning to prevent further tooth decay and potential tooth loss at the first sign of gingivitis.

Dental cleanings allow us to remove the plaque and tartar from the surface of the teeth and restore the smooth enamel surface which is more difficult for the plaque to adhere. The duration between dental cleanings is dependent on many variables, such as, genetics, overall gingival and oral health, age, diet, and breed, to mention a few. Because of individual variations, and the fact that the pets need to be sedated for thorough cleaning, we recommend examining the teeth first as apposed to automatic set interval cleaning times. Annual physical examinations or semi-annual exams, as our pets become older, are our best way to determine if and when a dental cleaning needs to occur.

Providing overall health care to pets is our main goal at the Meridian Veterinary Hospital, and one important aspect of that is through dental care.