LAKE COUNTY VETERINARY CLINICS
Serving Two Harbors & Grand Marais, MN
Why is good dental care important for your pet?
We know that your pet will benefit from good health the same way that you do; they will live longer, be more active and happy, and have a better quality of life. People who care about their pets understand this and are looking for the benefits of good veterinary care. Human dentistry developed as a distinct field of medicine to provide both preventive and problem specific care. Anyone who knows the intense misery of a dental problem from a “toothache” or infected gums will tell you how desperate they were for relief from their pain, and how much they wished for a dentist to help them immediately. Vaccinations, good nutrition, parasite control and advances in veterinary care are allowing pets to live many times longer than a dog, cat, horse, pet rabbit or rodent living in the wild. Along with this longevity, the wide variety of breeds has contributed to the development of a number of dental diseases and problems.
The primary goals of veterinary dentistry are to stop pain and to preserve function in your pet’s mouth. Most pets with a painful mouth are never treated because their pain is hidden. You or I can tell our dentist when we hurt, but your pet can’t.
The most common symptoms of oral pain in a pet are increased mouth odor “bad breath”, loss of playfulness and increased sleeping to “get away” from the pain. Many pets show reluctance to eat dry food or chew treats they once enjoyed. Your pet will commonly act “old” when they have a painful mouth. Curing the pain will give your pet a new quality of life they haven’t had for years.
The most common health problem in dogs and cats is periodontal disease. This chronic infection of the gum tissue and jawbone commonly results in abscessed teeth that will have a “domino effect” on nearby teeth. Just like for our good oral health, your pet needs good home dental care, appropriate diet and treats and regular care by your pet’s dental professional to help prevent periodontal disease. Twice yearly dental examinations by your veterinarian can detect problems early. Professional dental cleanings (with x-rays when necessary) are performed by your veterinarian when needed to control periodontal disease. Small dogs are much more commonly affected and seriously impacted by this hidden chronic infectious disease. A promising vaccine has been developed, and is being evaluated, in the hope of reducing this disease in dogs. Many pets suffer and lose teeth unnecessarily to this disease because regular preventive care gets “put off” until the future.
Dogs commonly suffer from fractured (broken) teeth that become infected, abscessed and create chronic misery. Dogs break teeth by chewing or picking up hard objects including rocks, bones, metal objects or nylon chew toys. Never let your dog chew on an object unless it is soft enough for you to bend it in your hands. There are only two ways to treat broken teeth to prevent them from developing tooth root abscesses in the jawbone. They can be saved with surgery, or they need to be extracted completely. Not providing care for these broken teeth results in lifelong pain for your pet.
Cats commonly develop resorptive lesions (a kind of cat cavity) that are very painful. Between 25 to 33% of all cats suffer silently from these hidden problems. Research has yet to find the cause of, or the way to prevent, these miserable lesions. Teeth that are affected by resorptive lesions need to be surgically removed to stop the pain.
Horses, rabbits and rodents develop a unique set of dental problems due to the continuous growth, and uneven wear of their teeth. Care provided by a knowledgeable professional can vastly improve their quality of life and longevity.
Good dental care for your pet is a joint responsibility between you and your veterinarian. Daily home dental care, appropriate foods and chew treats can help your pet at home. Your pet will need regular examinations and professional dental care when necessary to help prevent years of silent suffering with hidden chronic dental disease. Your pet will live years longer, have a happy life and will return your love with big, wet, sweet-smelling kisses!
Pet Dental Cleanings
Pet Dental Cleanings
Here at Lake County Veterinary Clinics, PLLC we provide exceptional and comprehensive dental care for your pet, which is an important factor in living its best life, happy and healthy!
Here at Lake County Veterinary Clinics, PLLC Professional Teeth Cleanings for both Dogs and Cats include the following:
- A comprehensive physical exam and oral exam as well as a consult to discuss oral pathology.
- Pre-Anesthesia Blood Work to assess organ function prior to anesthesia.
- General Anesthesia including IV fluid therapy and monitoring. Your pet’s anesthesia will be individualized to their specific needs. All patients are monitored continuously on a multiparameter unit which monitors their heart rate, respiratory rate, CO2 levels, temperature, and blood pressure. We make necessary changes with anesthesia to keep your pet safe during the procedure.
- *General anesthesia is required for all dental prophylaxis or any dental radiographs to ensure the airway is protected.
- Full mouth intraoral digital dental x-rays are obtained. These are obtained to evaluate for evidence of periodontal disease, fractured teeth, endodontic disease, assess for oral tumors, etc.
- Thorough professional periodontal therapy is performed.
- Thorough oral exam performed under anesthesia to further assess for periodontal issues or other oral disease.
- We send home a copy of medical records, dental chart and discharge instructions for every patient.
Oral Surgery & Extractions
We prefer, if possible, to save teeth using root canal therapy . However, there are many indications for surgical extractions in our feline and canine patients. These include periodontal disease, chronic gingivitis/stomatitis, resorptive disease and severely fractured teeth. Most tooth extractions require an incision of the gingiva and minimal removal of bone to ensure extraction of the entire tooth. Some teeth require tooth sectioning to ensure full root removal. Care should be taken especially when extracting mandibular canines and first molars, as improper technique can lead to jaw fractures. Surgical extraction sites are sutured closed to prevent complications during the healing process. The sutures do dissolve on their own in 2-8 weeks.
Extractions in a cat
Pet Oral Tumors and Cancer
There are many oral tumors that can affect the mouths of both Dogs and Cats. These often require not only oral dental radiographs but also biopsies to determine the type of oral tumors. Some oral tumors do require additional advanced imaging for oncology work up and follow up. Our doctors will discuss your concerns regarding your pet’s oral growth with you and develop a plan to ensure the best outcome to your pet’s needs.
Jaw fractures are typically seen in pets with trauma (such as hit by a car, big dog little dog fights, or related to periodontal disease). We will perform a thorough work up of your pet’s issues including full mouth dental radiographs to assess the dentition and location of fracture. Treatments may include interosseous wire (wire placed into the bone to allow for appropriate jaw alignment), intradental, splint (wiring and acrylic material) or various other techniques to assist in your pets healing.
Endodontics (Root Canal Therapy)
When possible for specific strategic teeth, we recommend endodontic therapy (aka root canals). This is to allow our patients to have a functional mouth free of pain and discomfort. The goal of Root Canal Therapy is to carefully debride and disinfect the pulp chamber and root canal system of the affected tooth, and then seal it with material that will prevent future internal infection of the endodontic system of the tooth from recurring. The peri-apical pathology that develops from endodontic infections will be expected to self-resolve once the chronic source of infection from inside the tooth is eliminated. Radiographic evidence of healing should be evident in approximately 6 months but may take longer to completely heal. In some cases, the procedure is not successful and additional surgical care may be indicated. If you have questions if your pet is a candidate for this procedure, ask our doctor team.
Periodontal disease is one of the most common diseases in our canine and feline friends. Periodontal disease begins when bacteria form a substance called plaque which sticks to the surface of the teeth. Once the plaque is present, minerals in the saliva harden the plaque into dental calculus in about 24-48 hours and is firmly attached to the teeth. Problems develop as plaque and calculus spread under the gum line and bacteria in the plaque causes damage to the supporting tissues around the tooth. This eventually leads to loss of the tooth. Bacteria under the gum line secrete toxins which contribute to tissue and bone loss. This stimulates the animal’s immune system and furthers the local inflammation. Periodontal disease includes gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (loss of bone and soft tissue around the teeth). A strict oral care regimen at home will hopefully delay the progression of this condition in your pets’ remaining teeth. Here at Lake County Veterinary Clinics, PLLC we recommend a comprehensive dental exam and treatment plan with prophylaxis (dental cleaning) once a year to ensure a healthy mouth for years to come.
Crowns & Restoratives
- The purpose of applying a restorative or prosthodontic full metal titanium crown in a vital or non-vital pulp (root canaled tooth) is to reduce microleakage as well as provided greater strength to the tooth.
- A dental crown, typically made out of titanium alloy, which is then shaped and placed over the dog or cat’s tooth. The crown is cemented in place just above the gum line.
Titanium Alloy Crown
This is a procedure where the damaged enamel and dentin is smoothed down and a composite or resin material is placed onto the tooth to seal the exposed enamel.
- Orthodontics is typically recommended for patients who have malocclusions. Malocclusions are misalignment of the normal jaw. Typical jaw alignment is a “Class 0” or normal occlusion (a normal scissor bite). The “scissors bite” refers to the normal relationship between the upper and lower teeth. For a true “scissor bite,” the upper incisors overlap the lower incisors when the mouth is closed. The lower canine teeth fit in between the upper third incisor and the upper canine without touching either of them with the mouth closed. In viewing the teeth from the side with the mouth closed, the premolar teeth of the upper and lower dental arcades interdigitate very much like the teeth of “sheer scissors”.
- For patients who have true malocclusions, they may be a candidate for orthodontics. This is a procedure which can allow the normal permanent dentition to come into appropriate alignment which reduces oral discomfort in the future.
- Types of orthodontic procedures we can do at Lake County Veterinary Clinics, PLLC
- Crown Extensions (application of composite placed on lower canines to correct lingoversion mandibular canines).
- Arch Bar (appliance placed on maxillary “upper” incisors and canines to correct underbite.
- Correction of mesioversion to maxillary canine (lanced canine) via orthodontic appliance.
Feline Dental Disease
Feline Tooth Resorption
- Stomatitis is a chronic, wide-spread inflammatory disease affecting the gingiva and mucosal lining of any of the structures in the oral cavity. We think the cause is multifactorial and the inciting factor is likely an abnormal response to plaque. If tooth resorption, another common dental abnormality seen in cats, was also noted during your cat’s oral exam, it was likely triggered by the stomatitis. The treatment of choice for stomatitis is surgical correction by removal of the plaque retaining surfaces (i.e., the teeth). This involves surgical extraction of affected teeth and intraoral radiographs (x-rays) of the whole oral cavity to look for any retained roots that need to be extracted.
- The prognosis for full mouth extractions as a treatment for stomatitis is good in the majority of patients. Many patients show improvement at the two weeks recheck and those who do not need any more medications past that mark. 60% of patients resolve without need for further medical management, 20% of cats with subclinical stomatitis do not require additional medication, 13% do not respond initially, but respond with additional medical management (corticosteroids and analgesics), and 7% fail to respond to any treatment. The healing process from stomatitis takes some time, and your pet may not show the full extent of improvement from surgical treatment for as long as 6-8 months.
Intraoral Dental Radiographs
Intraoral dental radiology, or x-ray, is vital and essential for diagnosis, treatment, planning, and follow-up evaluation. Without quality radiographs, treating your pet’s oral issues would only be done with guessing. Dental radiographs are the standard and starting point for all oral care.
405 unerupted noted on X-ray
Fear of general anesthesia for pets is a natural concern voiced by many owners when a veterinary dental procedure is recommended. However, the risk of chronic oral infection to your dog or cat, is far greater than the risk of an anesthetic complication. Some points to keep in mind when thinking about pet anesthesia are:
- When we go to our own human dentist or hygienist yearly or every 6 months we can sit quietly, open our mouth when asked, spit out water when requested and let the hygienist do their work. Our animal friends are not capable of remaining still, calm, and compliant during a dental cleaning without general anesthesia. While the principles of good oral hygiene are the same for dogs and cats as for people, there are some significant differences. Humans understand why the procedure is important, and we typically do not need sedation or restraint, but our pet’s do. To ensure that nothing is missed in dogs or cats, our patients require a thorough oral examination that includes digital dental radiographs, cleaning, and polishing under general anesthesia as part of a professional dental cleaning. We do this because “Fluffy” the cat will not allow the x-ray equipment in her mouth without sedation. “Bart” the 80-pound lab won’t sit still for cleaning without sedation. To provide the safest and most efficient care for both your pet and clinic staff these are services provided under general anesthesia.
- Anesthesia is essential for dental procedures, to ensure that the procedure can be completed successfully.
- Appropriately administered general anesthesia entails extremely low risk for the pet patient, as a result of a combination of pre-anesthetic assessment of the patient (including blood tests or other tests as indicated), use of modern anesthetic agents and local anesthetic blocks (which minimizes the depth of general anesthesia required), and modern anesthetic monitoring equipment. Many patients are awake and standing within 15 to 20 minutes of completion of the procedure and go home the same day.
- While no one can guarantee the outcome of anesthesia, we are trained to provide safe anesthesia and to minimize pain for your pet.
- Every pet is monitored continuously on a multiparameter unit to assess heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature, blood pressure, electrical conductivity of the heart via EKG, and carbon dioxide levels. Changes can be made during the procedure to ensure quality anesthesia that is safe for your pet.
Anesthesia Monitoring Equipment