Hollygate Vets's home page
  • Call our surgery02890 817109
  • Out of hours02890 651729

Dental Care

One of the most common conditions

Dental Health – The Facts

Did you now dental disease is one of the most common conditions seen in veterinary practices?

Bad breath is often the first sign of oral hygiene problems. It is estimated that 80 % of dogs and 70 % of cats suffer from dental disease by the age of 3.

Plaque is the enemy.  After each meal, plaque (an adhesive layer of bacteria) forms on your pet’s teeth. It gradually hardens to form calculus, which is typically brown or yellowish in colour. Calculus provides an ideal surface for further bacterial growth, leading to inflammation of the gums called gingivitis. Gingivitis is REVERSIBLE with professional descaling, polishing and subsequent home care.

If gingivitis is left untreated, the gums become detached from the tooth forming ‘pockets’ which predispose to further plaque build-up. This represents the first stage of periodontitis. Early stage periodontitis is also REVERSIBLE with professional descaling, polishing and subsequent home care.

In the absence of appropriate care, the progression of periodontitis results in the gum recession and the supportive tissues of the teeth being destroyed. This may result in root exposure, abscess formation and teeth becoming loose or falling out. These advanced stages of periodontitis are IRREVERSIBLE and may require tooth extraction.

In addition to the effects within the mouth, it has also been shown that bacteria within the oral cavity may enter the bloodstream via the inflamed gums and damage other organs of the body, such as the heart, liver and kidneys.

Typical signs of dental problems

  • Bad Breath
  • Yellow teeth or brown colour spots on teeth
  • Inflammed gums
  • Excessive salivation and dribbling
  • Sore mouth
  • Difficulty eating
  • Bleeding gums
  • Pawing or rubbing the mouth

Common causes

Age – dental disease is more common in older pets.
Breed – small dogs are more likely to have overcrowded or misaligned teeth that are difficult to keep clean, making them more prone to dental disease.
Food – feeding predominantly wet food might lead to a more rapid build-up of plaque and tartar.

Dental Hygiene – how can you help your pet?

Check regularly for signs of dental problems and if in doubt or your pet won’t let you, then make an appointment to see one of our experienced vets. Monitor your pet’s breath and look for signs of calculus and reddening of the gums.

Yearly vet checks – have your pet’s teeth checked at least once a year by your vet.

Dental products early in life – Remember prevention is better than cure.  Starting early in life with dental products and brushing will help avoid future problems. Start a daily home care routine especially after any professional cleaning.

Feed dry food with larger kibbles that clean your pet’s teeth whilst eating. There are also specialist diets available from our clinic which are clinically proven to reduce the accumulation of plaque and tartar without compromising on taste. Why not talk to one of our team for more information.

Brushing is the single most effective method of removing plaque.  Use a toothpaste specifically designed for pets. Do not use your own dental products as they are not suitable for your pet. Pet toothpastes contain an enzyme complex which helps attack bacteria and they have a pleasant taste, so they are well tolerated by both cats and dogs. There are different finger brushes and toothbrushes of various sizes available.

Drinking water additives – These are used daily in drinking water to inhibit plaque build-up and maintain fresh odour free breath. Use in addition to brushing and special diets.

Professional cleaning – The vet may recommend professional scaling and polishing. This is the same as having your teeth cleaned at the dentists.  If there is a large build-up of tartar scaling is the only thing that will remove it. If your pet requires a dental procedure an appointment will be made for this safe and routine day procedure.




How to brush your pet’s teeth?

Gradually follow these steps to brushing. Be patient and take your time, some pets may need a day or two at each step.

Step 1 – gently stroke the outside of your pet’s cheeks, with just your fingers (no brush) for about 30 seconds, then slowly lift the top lip to see the teeth.

Step 2 – Repeat as above.  In addition, place a small amount of toothpaste on the end of your finger and let your pet taste it.

Step 3 – Lift the top lip, then gently run your finger or finger toothbrush with a small amount of toothpaste on it over your pet’s teeth for 30-45 seconds.

Step 4 – repeat step 3, extending the time by about 15 seconds at a time.

Step 5 – When your pet is happy with their teeth being rubbed with a finger or finger toothbrush for a minute, start to use a proper toothbrush for about 30 seconds.

Step 6 – Repeat as step 5 and increase the time by 30 seconds.

Step 7 – By this time you should be aiming to spend at least one minute on each side of the mouth.

If your pet is well behaved reward them with a praise and a treat (a dental chew is ideal) at the end of each session.

If your pet will tolerate a toothbrush with bristles this will clean below the gumline well but remember something is better than nothing.  Even if you cannot achieve all the steps even a shorter period of brushing with a finger brush is better than not brushing the teeth at all.

Why not watch this video for more information –