Frequently Asked Questions About Dentistry

By February 8, 2017 No Comments
What is dental disease?

Dental disease or periodontal disease is the destruction of the tooth’s attachment (periodontal ligament) to the bone by bacteria. If you are not regularly brushing your pet’s teeth, plaque begins to build up on the teeth. Over time, the plaque migrates below the gum line furthering the dental disease. Once plaque accumulates under the gum line, it causes inflammation which is called gingivitis.

What are some signs that might indicate a pet has periodontal disease?

Unfortunately, most cats and dogs do not show obvious signs of dental disease. They are hard wired to eat because if they do not eat they will not live. This does not mean that they are not in pain! The earliest sign of dental disease is redness of the gums. You might also see plaque or calculus build up. As periodontal disease progresses, you might see recession of gums, bad breath (halitosis), or blood on toys. These signs should NOT be relied upon for diagnosis. 75% of cats and dogs over 3 years old have some form of dental disease!

What should I look for when I examine my pet’s teeth?

Look for anything that appears abnormal. Redness of the gums is often the first sign of dental disease. You might also see calculus accumulation on teeth. In more advanced stages, the teeth will be mobile or you might see gum recession.

Why is it important to have my pet’s teeth cleaned?

Under general anesthesia is the only way we are able to probe for pockets or places where bacteria can escape under the gum line. Anesthesia also allows us to take dental radiographs which allows us to evaluate roots.

Why does a dental cleaning have to be done under anesthesia?

It is impossible to thoroughly clean and examine a cat or dog’s mouth while awake. Only about 20% of an animal’s mouth can be examined while awake.

When is a pet too old to have a dentistry?

NEVER! Each animal is carefully evaluated and an individual anesthetic plan is created for each animal. Prior to our dentistries, each animal is carefully evaluated and undergoes a thorough physical exam and pre-dentistry blood work to evaluate their organs and if they can handle anesthesia.

What can pet owners do at home to prevent periodontal disease?

BRUSH THEIR TEETH! We realize that brushing is not an option in every case and there are other options we can offer specialized: diets, rawhides, chews, treats, and mouth rinses.

Should human toothpaste be used to brush your pet’s teeth?

Never use human toothpaste for your pet. It can be toxic if they swallow.

If we absolutely cannot brush our pet’s teeth, are there other options?

Of course! Purina DH food helps keep tartar off of teeth. We also have a variety of chews and rawhides. Contact us and we can find the best products for you. 716-852-8276 or online at

What should a pet chew on?

You should be able to make an indentation in the treat or chew with your fingernail. If you cannot, the treat is too hard. If you hit yourself in the knee with the chew and it hurt you, the treat is too hard. Pets who are prone to swallowing large pieces, should be monitored while chewing.