Dental Disease. Whats the big deal?

For many years the veterinary profession had ignored oral health. We have realised in the last 20 years how important good oral health is to the general well-being of your pet. The main oral problem we see in dogs and cats is periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is an insidious, chronic disease that causes pain and suffering.

One of the most common statements from owners is that their pet is still eating well and does not seem to be in pain. The other frequent statement we hear is how much better their pet is after having treatment for periodontal disease. This disease slowly gets worse over time and we just don’t notice the progression. Most pets are middle aged and their lethargy just gets put down to advancing years. Pets with periodontal disease are at risk for infections elswhere in the body because every time they eat, bacteria are released into the blood stream and can lodge in the heart valves or kidneys. At Abbotts Way Veterinary Clinic we grade your pets teeth at every visit and if prophylactic cleaning is required we will advise you accordingly. Abbotts Way Vets have the latest digital x-ray and dental x-ray machines and service Remuera, Ellerslie, Kohimarama, Mission Bay, St Heliers, StoneFields, Mt Wellington, Greenlane and other surrounding suburbs.

A Special Condition In Cats

We call them forls, neck lesions, or cervical lesions. The correct name is Feline Odontoclastic Resorbative Lesions. So what are they, why do they occur, and how do we treat them.

Tooth resorption is the most common dental problem in cats, with studies worldwide showing a prevalence rate (in cats presented for dental problems) of up to 75%. Many species of animals as well as people experience various types of tooth resorption, but no other species experiences the prevalence of this condition that cats do. Resorptions of permanent teeth in cats have commonly been referred to as feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORLs). They have also been called neck lesions, cervical line erosions, and feline caries.

Our understanding of FORLs has been enlightened by the use of dental radiography and by histologic studies. It appears that the lesions originate in the cementum, invade into dentin, and, from there, can progress apically (down the root), coronally (toward the crown), or both ways. Enamel often flakes off if its underlying dentin is involved. Enamel may also be resorbed (but from the inside out) once the lesion has progressed coronally into the tooth crown. The bottom line is that by the time we can clinically detect even small lesions by visual inspection or by probing or exploring, we are encountering an end-stage lesion. The cause of FORLs is unknown but is under investigation. All tooth-saving treatments have been shown to have poor results. Currently we extract any teeth affected with this problem.

Teeth Cleaning

Eight out of ten adult pets have periodontal disease which can result in infected gums, abscesses, or loose teeth. If untreated, tooth and gum disease may allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream and cause damage to the valves of the heart. Also complications of the liver, kidneys or bone marrow often evolve from dental neglect.

In most cases teeth cleaning is a routine task, and something that can be done as part of a regular consult. If issues become advanced surgery may be required.

If dental surgery  is required you pet will likely need a general anaesthesia. Before this we strongly recommend that your pet has a preanaesthetic blood test. These tests are run in our in house laboratory on the morning of the dental procedure. We will look at the health of the blood cells and the vital organs such as the kidneys and the liver. You will be given the option to waive these tests when you sign the anaesthetic consent form when your pet is admitted for surgery.

Before the procedure is also important that you prepare your pet by withholding all food from 10pm the night before and removing the water bowl at 7am on the day of the surgery. Once your pet is anaesthetised it’s teeth will be cleaned with an ultrasonic scaler and polished with a fluoride paste. They will then be assessed for decay, loss of enamel and gum recession and any unhealthy teeth will be extracted. If teeth are removed your pet may be sent home with a course of antibiotics and/or pain relief to ensure a rapid recovery.

Ideally pets will avoid surgery through regular cleans and good dental hygiene at home. Dental home care is important to maintain healthy teeth and gums. This may consist of teeth brushing, the use of the Hills t/d prescription food or various dental treats and chews such as Greenies

If dental checks are not part of your pets health care, please call our receptionist to schedule an appointment to insure your special pet has healthy, pain free teeth.