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Animal Dentistry

Animal Dentistry at Tennessee Avenue Animal Hospital

Did you know that 80% of animals over 5 years of age have some form of dental disease? Bad breath is the most common effect noted by owners. However, this is often only the tip of the iceberg. The gums become irritated, leading to bleeding and oral pain and your cat or dog may lose its appetite or drop food from its mouth while eating. The roots may become so severely affected that some teeth become loose and fall out. Bacteria surrounding the roots gain access to the blood stream ("bacteremia"). Studies have shown that animals with severe periodontal disease have more severe microscopic damage in their kidneys, heart muscle and liver than do animals with less severe periodontal disease.
At Tennessee Avenue Animal Hospital, we utilize the latest techniques and modern equipment to provide the best dental care for your pet. You have been given this handout because we have identified dental disease in your pet. This explains exactly what is involved in the dentistry procedure at Tennessee Avenue Animal Hospital.

Steps to a healthy mouth

  1. Physical examination. Every animal we see has an examination of the mouth performed as part of the general physical examination. We can see if there is obvious disease in the mouth. We will grade the severity of the dental disease we can see from 1-4, with one being minor dental problems and 4 being major dental problems. This gives us a rough idea of what we may need to do during a dental procedure. It is difficult to fully examine the mouth of an awake pet and we can only see the crowns of the teeth, NOT the roots. We will provide a rough estimate for the procedures we may need to do. We may find more problems during the dental procedure and in this case we will call you to discuss our findings and give you an exact cost for the procedure.
  2. Preoperative bloodwork and examination. Any animal that receives general anesthesia at Tennessee Avenue Animal Hospital gets a full physical examination on the day of surgery and blood tests may be performed to make sure the animal is in good health.
  3. General anesthesia. Dentistry requires an animal to be under a general anesthetic. The patient is anesthetized and IV catheter and anesthetic monitors are placed. A veterinary technician closely monitors the patient during the dental procedure.
  4. Intraoral Radiology. During the dental procedure we will perform x-rays of any teeth of concern noted during the oral evaluation. The only way to accurately evaluate the whole tooth is to x-ray. The crown is the only portion of the tooth visible-the root of the tooth is embedded in a socket in the jaw bone. In many cases the crown of the tooth may appear normal, but an x-ray of the tooth may reveal a problem with the root that requires treatment. Once the teeth in the mouth have been x-rayed the treating veterinarian reviews the x-rays and decides on what therapy is required for each tooth.

We use a digital dental x-ray system to x-ray each tooth. The x-ray is then read by the attending veterinarian. 
Here is an x-ray of a dog's lower jaw produced by our digital dental system.

This is an x-ray of a dog with severe dental disease. You can see that the bone around the roots of the teeth has receded away from the tooth roots. These teeth will need to be removed.

Once we have removed the affected teeth we take another x-ray to make sure that all of the roots have been removed and there is no damage to the jaw bone.
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