Howell/Hamburg Pet Dental Care

howell/hamburg pet dental servicesIt's possible to add years to your pet's life with proper dental care. Dental hygiene can also increase your pet's health, vitality and wellbeing. Proper dental care at Countryside Veterinary Hospital helps ensure your pet leads the best life possible.

If left untreated, dental disease can not only be painful and inhibit proper nutrition, but it can also lead to serious systemic issues that may threaten your pet's health before symptoms are noticeable. For example, oral bacteria that enter the bloodstream can damage your pet's kidneys, heart or liver. It is estimated that more than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats develop tooth and gum disease by the age of three years.

Dental hygiene is an important piece of your dog or cat's preventive health care program. It not only prevents dental and systemic disease, but it also helps minimize the lifetime cost of care for your pet.

A predental workup may involve laboratory and diagnostic tests (such as a complete blood count and blood chemistry profile) to better evaluate your pet's current health status and to assure safe anesthesia. Current medical problems must be evaluated and any possible unknown problems must be identified prior to dentistry.

The Dental Procedure

A dental checkup for your pet includes the following:

  • Oral examination by a doctor before the procedure
  • General anesthesia
  • EKG: continuous monitoring on oscilloscope during entire procedure
  • Pulse Oximetry: blood oxygen levels monitored during anesthesia
  • Teeth cleaning and root planning are performed. Ultrasonic cleaning and scaling of all accessible tooth surfaces above and below the gum line are performed.
  • Teeth extractions: if required, these are performed by one of our doctors. Loose and diseased teeth cannot be left in the mouth as they are a continuous source of pain and infection.
  • Dental X-rays may be taken if needed.
  • Dental surgery is performed by a doctor. This surgery most commonly involves gingivectomies - removal of excessive gum tissue in order to eliminate dental "pockets" in which bacteria may grow.
  • Final examination by a doctor before polishing
  • Teeth polishing: This procedure consists of high speed polishing of all accessible tooth surfaces.
  • Antibacterial mouthwash
  • Fluoride treatment: after air-drying the teeth with compressed air, a fluoride gel is applied to all tooth surfaces. This has to remain in contact with the teeth for 4 minutes. Fluoride provides the same well-known protective effects as in people.
  • Anesthetic recovery with continuous monitoring

The average length of this procedure is 45 to 75 minutes for dogs and 30 to 40 minutes for cats.


Once your pet's teeth have been cleaned, you'll want to keep them in good shape. For the first week following a dental cleaning, you should give your pet soft food while the gums heal. After 7-10 days you should start a program of brushing your pet's teeth. A toothpaste made for pets should be used. Gradually introduce the brushing program and work up to an every other day schedule. This requires effort and patience.

Various dental devices are available to help keep your pet's teeth clean. You can apply toothpaste (toothpaste specifically made for animals) into the grooves of some rubber toys for dogs, hence allowing the difficult pet to "brush his own teeth". Nylabones and Booda Bones are also helpful in the maintenance of oral hygiene, as are good-quality dog biscuits.

Dental Hygiene Through Diet

Hill's Prescription Diets manufactures a diet specifically for the control of tartar in dogs and cats. T/D Diet is suitable for those patients who appear to be high-risk for the build-up of tartar and plaque, despite cleaning and maintenance. This diet is completely balanced for long-term use and is especially useful in those breeds with genetic susceptibility to dental disease.

Giving your pet's teeth the attention they deserve will promote not only good oral health, but also contribute to the maintenance of good general health. It will provide you, the owner, with a breath of fresh air !!

Dental Care Q & A

After the examination for any retained "baby teeth", which is performed at six months, your pet should have an annual checkup for dental health when it receives its yearly booster vaccines.

Cavities are not as common in pets, but do occur occasionally. Frequently in cats "subgingival caries" may form, when the gum lines have receded excessively, exposing the dentine layer that is much softer than enamel.

The most common cause of bad breath is excessive tartar deposits on the teeth. Bacteria feed and live in the tartar and produce offensive odors. Tartar is a crusty collection of food particles, minerals, and bacteria that form at the tooth/gum borders. However, metabolic diseases such as kidney disease, diabetes, etc. can also produce halitosis.

Yes. As tartar accumulates at the gum line, it causes gum recession and inflammation or "gingivitis". This allows bacteria in the tartar to infect and loosen the base of the tooth, causing periodontal disease. In pets, periodontal disease may lead to an infection of the heart (endocarditis) and/or of other organs, as also may occur in people. Inflammation of the gums and infection of the teeth can cause your pet considerable pain, and his/her appetite and general attitude may deteriorate.

Feed your pet a well-balanced, commercial diet. Brushing the teeth is an excellent way to check tartar build-up, though once hard plaque has developed, your pet may require dentistry. Brushing with a flavored toothpaste designed for pets, 2-3 times weekly, discourages tartar build-up.

For dogs, Booda Bones, Nylabones, or large rawhide chew toys are helpful as a preventative measure and also aid in stimulation of the gums. If your pet does not let you brush the teeth, you may use one of the pre-made veterinary dental mouthwashes. Alternatively, if you cannot provide maintenance, you may need to have us perform full dental scaling and polishing on a more frequent basis.

Dentistry is required when hardened tartar deposits have occurred and/or when periodontal disease is present. It is also required when substantial mouth odor exists, which indicates infection or decay even if it is not readily apparent.

This depends on diet, dental alignment, amount of gum recession that has already occurred, and future care of the teeth. Smaller breeds tend to develop tartar much more quickly; in most cases this is a genetic predisposition and not something the owner can readily modify. However, the degree to which the owner provides ongoing dental prophylaxis heavily influences the outcome!

hamburg/howell pet dental careHome Dental Care

Dental care is not something that can be left to periodic visits with us. Because plaque buildup,the primary cause of poor oral health, is a gradual process occurring throughout the life of your pet, it is important to practice good home dental care. As with humans, this means regular tooth brushing and in some cases additional steps may be necessary. Any member of the our staff can show you the proper method for caring for your pet's teeth as well as help you select the most effective dental products for your pet.

You should also be able to recognize the signs of poor oral health. If you notice any of the following, you may want to contact us:

  • Persistent bad breath – one of the first signs of dental disease
  • Tartar or plaque buildup (ask your veterinarian how to identify these)
  • A yellowish-brown crust of plaque on the teeth near the gum line
  • Red and swollen gums
  • Pain or bleeding when your pet eats or when the mouth or gums are touched
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Decreased appetite or difficulty eating
  • Loose or missing teeth