Pet Dental Care

Pet Dental Care

Dentistry is an important field of veterinary science. We have seen an increase in awareness of the importance dental care to the overall health of the animals we treat. Alarmingly, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats suffer from some form of dental disease by the age of three.

Just like humans, your pet’s teeth need looking after too! The health of their teeth and gums has a significant impact on their overall wellness and quality of life. Imagine how your mouth would feel and smell if you never brushed your teeth. Imagine having a really bad toothache and not being able to tell anyone about it!

Dental disease begins with a build up of bacteria in your pets mouth. Bacteria, combined with saliva and food debris, can cause plaque to accumulate on the tooth. Over time plaque turns to tartar (brown or yellow material starting near the gum line of the tooth). Without proper preventive or therapeutic care, plaque and tartar build-up leads to gingivitis and periodontal disease, which affects the tissues and structures supporting the teeth. Periodontal disease can cause oral pain, tooth loss and even organ problems. It also has the potential to shorten your pets lifespan.

Common signs of dental disease include:

  • Yellow-brown tartar around the gumline
  • Inflamed, red gums
  • Bad breath
  • Change in eating or chewing habits (especially in cats)
  • Pawing at the face or mouth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Pain or bleeding when you touch the gums or mouth

Firstly, you should have your pet’s teeth examined by one of our veterinarians on a regular basis and if necessary, follow up with a professional dental clean. Your pet needs to be anaesthetised to carry out a thorough dental examination, and to safely clean all teeth without distressing them or causing danger to the veterinarian.

Please note it is impossible to thoroughly, safely and humanely clean or extract an animal’s teeth without an anaesthetic.

Once anaesthetised, a complete dental examination is carried out. This process involves charting all present teeth and evaluating their condition on all surfaces, including the degree of tartar, gingivitis (gum inflammation) and any pockets in the gums around the teeth. Our veterinarians will then remove the tartar above the gumline using a special ultrasonic scaler, just like a dentist uses for our teeth. The teeth are then polished using a dental polisher and specialised fine-grade paste. If the dental disease is not severe, the procedure will end here. However, if certain teeth are so severely affected they cannot be saved, extractions will be necessary. In some cases, the bone of the jaw around the teeth must be drilled and gum surgery is required to close the holes left behind when a tooth is extracted – stitches that dissolve are used for this procedure. Once all dental work is completed, your pet may be given antibiotics and pain relief, then woken up. Pets are generally able to go home on the same day.

Following a professional dental clean, a plan needs to be implemented to minimise build up of tartar again, and will depend on the severity of your pet’s dental disease. This may involve regular tooth brushing, encouraging use of “dental toys” or feeding a special dental care diet. It is recommended that all pets be examined 6 months after dental cleaning to determine the effectiveness of your dental care routine.

Long-term control and prevention of dental disease requires regular home care. The best way to achieve this is to start good dental hygiene practices when your pet is young.


Dental home care may include:

  • Brushing teeth daily – just like us! This is the best form of dental hygiene. Pet toothbrushes and toothpaste (in pet friendly flavours!) are available. Please do not use human toothpaste formulas as they are not designed to be swallowed and may be toxic to your pet.
  • Feed pets special dental diets. This can help reduce the accumulation of tartar. We can recommend the most suitable dental diet for your pet.
  • Use dental toys, enzymatic chews, or teeth cleaning biscuits, all of which may help keep the teeth clean.
  • Regular and frequent attention resulting in early assessment and action with your pets teeth may avoid the need for a professional dental clean under anaesthetic, and will also improve your pets overall health.

If you have any questions about dental care or professional cleaning please do not hesitate to contact our staff.