Please watch the informational video below that will help you as an owner to have a better understanding of what we, at BCVH, do to help you provide the best veterinary dental care for your loving pet.
Oral disease is one of the most common, yet serious health problems in veterinary medicine — affecting approximately 80% of dogs and 70% of cats by age three.
What is the first step in assessing my pet’s oral health?
Your pet’s oral assessment begins in the exam room. Before our veterinarians perform their physical examination which includes your pet’s oral exam, ask yourself these key questions:
Is my pet showing abnormal signs?
Oral disease can result in difficulty chewing, food dropping from the mouth, inability to open or close the mouth and/or excessive salivation.
Does my pet’s breath smell bad?
Halitosis, the offensive odor that accompanies periodontal disease, results from the bacteria associated with plaque, calculus, diseased gums and decomposing food particles that may be retained in your pet’s gums.
Would I be willing and able to brush my pet’s teeth?
Plaque, the precursor of periodontal disease, accumulates within 12 hours of a thorough teeth cleaning. Unless it is removed daily, plaque remains on the tooth surface and often irritates the gingiva. Also, salivary minerals change the plaque to calculus, attracting more plaque, eventually leading to periodontal disease.
What are my goals for my pet’s oral health?
Establishing and maintaining a healthy mouth for your pet is important to us. The oral assessment provides the necessary information for us to make the appropriate treatment and prevention recommendations that meet your goals.
Physical Comprehensive Exam
Here at BCVH, a physical health exam is performed before anesthetizing your pet. This includes inspecting the eyes, ears, nose, throat and auscultation of the heart and lungs, and feeling the abdomen for areas of discomfort or swelling. Looking at your pet’s face, we examine its eye and ears, as well as check for enlarged lower-jaw lymph nodes that would be indicative of infection, inflammation or other concerns.
Along with your pets physical exam we conduct an oral exam as well.
While inspecting the mouth, we will also examine how the teeth meet, evaluate your pet’s bite, hard palate, the tongue and gingiva – as abnormalities of these can increase your pet’s risk for dental disease.
Most oral conditions, such as broken teeth and periodontal disease, can be briefly evaluated on your awake pet. The extent of this oral exam depends on your cat or dogs cooperation. Unfortunately, some pets with oral disease may be in too much discomfort for a proper exam to be conducted. Therefore, in order to obtain further assessment of your pet’s oral exam, general anesthesia is used to take radiographs and other specific therapies that are personally tailored to your pet’s needs.
The Laboratory Exam
The comprehensive physical exam by one of our veterinarians will allow us to determine which preoperative tests should be performed before your pet’s professional dental cleaning under general anesthesia.
All patients going under any variation of anesthesia should have pre-anesthetic blood work done. Generally, older patients and patients with other diseases (i.e., kidney, liver, and diabetes) will require more tests before anesthesia and surgery. With the guidance and expertise of our veterinarians, we can help guide you to the best plan for you and your pet.
General anesthesia is required to properly diagnose and treat dental disease. Your pet’s safety is our number one concern. An important part of the anesthesia trilogy – choosing what’s pet for your pet, anesthesia protocol and patient monitoring – is by preoperative patient testing (i.e., Bloodwork, Blood Pressure/Electrocardiogram/X-rays) for your pet after his/her physical exam.
Oral Examination Under Anesthesia
The foundation of an oral assessment is a visual tooth-by-tooth examination under anesthesia, with the help of periodontal probing equipment, and dental x-rays.
Every Oral ATP conducted under general anesthesia should include probing and charting. This allows us to identify your pet’s level of periodontal disease. After your pet’s visual and probing examination, a complete dental chart will be determined to identify dental disease and to develop a treatment plan that will address any abnormalities. This step is necessary to provide quality care for your pet. The charting of existing conditions provides basic information for an accurate, comprehensive treatment plan. This dental chart will stay in your pet’s records along with a copy for your personal records so as a pet owner; you can stay on track of your pet’s dental and overall health.
Radiographs, simply known as x-rays, offer the capability to view your pet’s teeth below the gum line as well as inside and around each tooth. This step is an integral part of your pet’s Oral ATP, revealing disease not visible to the eye in more than 75% of cases. These films will be used to complete your pet’s yearly oral assessment in evaluating and monitoring progression or resolution of treated dental disease.
The goal of your pet’s health is important to us at Bristol County Veterinary Hospital. Under guidelines established by the American Animal Hospital Association, we ensure proper and adequate veterinary care by providing optimal skills and equipment. Talk to one of our veterinarians at your pet’s next comprehensive physical exam or schedule an oral assessment exam to evaluate your pet’s dental health so that we may help you keep your pet happy and healthy.