Hours Of Operation:

Mon – Thu: 8am–8pm

Fri: 8am–5pm

Sat: 8am–2pm

Dental Care at Greece Animal Hospital

Overview of Dental Health

Dental Care We have all been well educated from the time we were children about dental health. Twice daily brushing and semiannual cleanings are normal for all of us. If we become lax we develop tartar accumulation, gingivitis, periodontal disease or cavities.

What about our pets? The reality is that our dogs and cats need dental care too. By the time most dogs and cats reach the age of two years dental plaque (that stuff we try to brush off our teeth every day) has begun to mineralize and adhere to their teeth as tartar. At the same time plaque and tartar are building up under the gum line. This plaque contains millions (literally) of bacteria, which if left in place, will infect the gums causing gingivitis. Unchecked infection under the gumline will cause an incurable disease called periodontitis. Periodontal disease is a painful, progressive loss of infected bone, which with dedicated professional care can be controlled but never cured. The good news is that periodontal disease is almost always preventable if regular dental care is started early enough in life.

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Home Dental Care

Home Dental Care - Brushing It is estimated that 60% of all dogs and cats will have early dental disease by the time they are two years of age and 85% are affected by three years of age. Unless treated early, gingivitis and periodontal disease will progress to the point of tooth loss, and a lot of pain along the way. Periodontal disease is virtually 100% preventable if regular dental cleanings are done by a veterinarian and owners care for their pet’s teeth at home with the same commitment as for their own teeth. Young dogs and cats can often be trained to accept tooth brushing at home if done early and properly. If we force our animals (i.e. call in several neighbors to sit on the dog while we scrub the teeth) we will be unsuccessful. On the other hand slow, progressive training usually results in cooperation. Start for a couple of weeks with allowing your pet to lick a little pet toothpaste (which come in a variety of tasty flavors) from your finger. Don’t use human toothpaste; its fluoride can cause toxicity if swallowed daily. After your pet is used to the taste, start wiping a little toothpaste on a tooth or two for a few days, and then progressively more teeth. When a pet is accepting the finger “brushing” you can then advance to a soft finger brush, and rub all outer surfaces of the teeth daily. When a dog is accepting the finger brush then, and only then, can you start using a dog toothbrush or a child’s soft toothbrush. Slow, happy training is the key to success. Daily brushing of the teeth reduces plaque formation, gingivitis, and periodontal disease. This saves your pet from pain and disease development and decreases the costs of future dental care.

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Anesthesia / Monitoring

Anesthesia / Monitoring Dental procedures such as teeth cleaning, sealants, fillings, and extractions are done exactly the same way for dogs and cats as for humans. The only big difference is that animals must be anesthetized to achieve their needed cooperation. When a dog or cat comes to the hospital a brief exam is done and a sedative is administered. Once sleepy enough, an endotracheal tube is placed in the airway to allow the administration of gas anesthesia and to protect the lungs from aspiration (inhaling of dental tartar and fluid from the dental cleaning — this doesn’t happen in awake animals/people who can swallow normally). An intravenous catheter is placed for fluid administration, which helps to support normal blood pressure. Anesthetic monitoring is critically important, every animal is monitored continuously and great care is taken to ensure anesthetic safety and to minimize anesthetic side effects.

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Dental Cleanings

Dental Cleanings A dental cleaning is done for our pets exactly the same way it is done for us. The only exception is that our animal friends must be placed under general anesthesia. No awake dog or cat would let us do a thorough cleaning. First the dental tartar, also known as calculus, is removed from the tooth surface. This is done by a combination of hand scaling and the use of an ultrasonic scaler, used to literally vibrate tartar off of the teeth. Next, plaque and tartar must be removed from beneath the gum tissue. After all the teeth are cleaned the enamel surface is polished and smoothed with a prophy-paste that helps to slow down future plaque build up.

Removing the plaque is really the important part of the cleaning since plaque and tartar contain millions of bacteria. If not removed from under the gum line, bacteria will cause infection of the gums or gingivitis that can progress to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a painful condition that ultimately leads to tooth loss. Regular, thorough cleanings are a big part of preventing gingivitis and periodontal disease.

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Dental Radiographs (X-rays)

Dental Radiographs (X-rays) Veterinary hospitals providing advanced dental care now have dental x-ray machines. If a problem is discovered on a post-cleaning examination of the mouth, dental x-rays are necessary to help diagnose signs of tooth and bone disease and determine the necessary treatment.

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Tooth Repair

Tooth Repair The most common form of tooth repair in human dentistry is filling cavities. Carious decay, producing cavities, is uncommon in dogs and almost nonexistent in cats. When found in dogs, cavities are treated with fillings just as for people. The filling material is most commonly a composite resin, but occasionally amalgam is used.

Odontoclastic resorptive lesions in cat teeth look like cavities. Despite extensive research the cause for these deep painful holes remains unknown. The only effective treatment is extraction. Unfortunately this is a common concern in cats and rarely is only one tooth affected.

Fractured teeth in dogs are a relatively common problem. The most common cause of broken teeth is chewing on something too hard. Rocks and real bones are simply too hard for dog’s teeth. Fractured teeth may be treated by restoration, bonded sealants, or by endodontic therapy, depending on the type of injury. If part of a tooth breaks off it might be able to be rebuilt, or restored, back to its normal shape and appearance. Restorations are done using a composite resin, which is supplied in a soft, moldable form. After rebuilding a tooth the composite bonds to the tooth and becomes nearly as hard as a normal tooth by exposure to an ultrabright light, called a curing light. Small fractures of the tooth enamel that expose the tooth structure beneath the enamel (called dentin) require either restoration or bonded dental sealant application. Dental sealants help protect the dentin from bacterial invasion.

Root canal therapy is often done to save a fractured tooth. The endodontic system of a tooth is the blood vessel and nerve in the center core of a tooth. This tissue is also called the pulp, and if a tooth fractures and the pulp becomes exposed it always becomes infected. Infected pulp is a major risk to the bone of the mandible or maxilla (upper jaw) becoming infected. Bone infection is certainly very important to prevent. To protect the bone from infection and eliminate the pain of a broken tooth, a root canal can be performed. Root canal treatment consists of removing the pulp of a tooth and filling the resulting empty tube with non- reactive sealants.

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Extractions

A tooth that is damaged beyond repair, or has inadequate bone support because of periodontal disease, should be extracted. It is better to have no tooth (or teeth) than to have a chronically painful tooth (or teeth). Depending on the tooth involved and its overall health, it may be extracted by elevation or surgical extraction. Elevation is where a small single rooted or very loose tooth is progressively loosened by a dental instrument and removed. Surgical extraction is involved when tooth roots are large, numerous, or long; the extraction of human wisdom teeth, for example, is usually a surgical procedure.

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Pain Management

Dental cleanings are very easy and painless, however, procedures for treating periodontal disease can be unpleasant. Pain control for potentially painful procedures, like extractions, is achieved by prevention rather than treatment. Nerve blocks (local anesthetic injections) are routinely employed to prevent the pain from ever happening. Local anesthetic solutions can be placed in the tooth socket (splash blocks) to minimize discomfort. Injectable medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and even morphine are commonly used. If it is anticipated that an animal may have some discomfort at home various analgesic medications can be prescribed.

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