Our Mission for Oral Health

This page will be your source for information on dental health in dogs and cats, and an area where you can find various documents related to dental care procedures.

The entire staff at Commonwealth Animal Hospital is dedicated to providing you and your pet the best information and procedures related to dental health.

Dental disease is the most common disease in dogs and cats – roughly 80% of pets over the age of 3 have some level of dental disease. Dental disease encompasses signs ranging from gingivitis to broken teeth. Dental disease ultimately causes pain and infection in the oral cavity. Most pets hide pain pretty well – but pay close attention to things including, but not limited to; changes in behavior, drooling, lip smacking, changes in chewing/eating, or selection of softer toys over hard toys. The aforementioned signs may indicate oral pain, and if your pet is experiencing any of these, please have one of our veterinarians evaluate your pet’s mouth.

Oral health can not be 100% assessed in an awake pet, but a brief exam of your pet’s mouth can lead us to certain likely conclusions. If a dental cleaning is recommended, a 100% full oral evaluation will be performed once your pet is under anesthesia. Once under anesthesia, the veterinarian will perform a full oral exam including evaluating your pet’s mouth for: gingivitis, gum recession, bone loss around teeth, loose, broken or missing teeth, oral tumors, and proper bite alignment. Ideally every dental procedure should include full mouth x-rays as the outside of the teeth are only the “tip of the iceberg.”

While the veterinarian can get a good initial idea of disease present by evaluating the teeth visually, the truly concerning disease often lies below the gum line in the form of bone loss around tooth roots. Bone loss around tooth roots (only identifiable via x-rays) is suggestive of inflammation, disease, and/or potential root decay and infection. Depending on the level of disease, the veterinarian may recommend periodontal therapy (therapy to address bone loss and infection around the tooth in order to save the tooth for some period of time), tooth extraction, or suggest referral for advanced therapy. Once all the information is gathered via a full oral exam, the veterinarian will discuss your pet’s needs with you to determine the best course of action. The ultimate goal should be prevention, but often times dental disease is far more advanced than known outwardly. We are confident, by working with you in special interest of your pet, we can help return your pet’s mouth to a healthier state.

Please see this page for procedure day expectations.

Once a dental cleaning and appropriate therapy has been addressed, we ultimately recommend a routine home-care plan to help keep your pet’s dental disease at a minimum. We can help tailor a home care plan for your pet depending on their likely level of cooperation or your ability to perform certain cleaning functions. Products include water additives, dental chew treats or food, dental gels/rinses and enzymatic toothpastes. We’d be happy to discuss in further detail which items would likely help your pet the most.

Think of dental disease like this; 1 year of your pets life is equivalent to 3-7 human years. Imagine if humans didn’t brush their teeth every day and didn’t go to the dentist for 3-7 years. Suddenly, that seems like a fairly dramatic representation of how a pets mouth can have significant and hidden disease in such a short period of time.

We look forward to helping you improve your pet’s health and comfort through addressing one of the most prevalent diseases in household pets – from prevention to treatment. Please let us know if you have any further questions.

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