Saturday, August 6, 2016

Pet Dental Discussion - the true local Pet Dental expert - Your vet!

So you have heard about these Pet Dental Checks that are happening all over Australia at the moment ( it is August after all), but you are not quite sure if it is for your pet or what it involves? 
Well done Maya... your mouth is normal! Thanks for telling me what you think about it!

Well, each veterinary hospital will have their own systems, and their own checklists on what they are looking at and for, but I will share what it is that we do here, at Russell Vale Animal Clinic. There are similarities though between veterinary hospitals, in that we all usually grade dental disease from 0(which is normal) to Grade 4 (severe periodontal disease).

Before I get started, for many new clients, it starts with a phone call for a quote for a dental.

Whilst we can give you a quote for treatment for  a grade 2 or grade 3 mouth if your pet was assessed elsewhere, we need to examine your pet for ourselves before we will honour that quote. 


Because we need to discuss with you the steps that we will take to examine your pet’s mouth, the assessment of the degree of disease under anaesthesia, and the development of a treatment plan after interpretation of the dental chart with the dental radiograph.
The black halo around the roots makes the decision easy - there is tooth abscess.


Because periodontal disease is not the only disease or problem that can be going on in your pet's mouth.  Too often, on examination I am able to identify areas of concern that need to be further assessed. 
Lumps can be obvious, like this one, or hidden further back in the mouth or palate.

It is important to us that you understand that we don’t do “dentals” here at Russell Vale Animal Clinic, but we do a “Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment”, otherwise known as COHAT. It is also important that you understand that we practice dentistry to a high standard, including dental radiographs at all grades of dental disease.

I am not going to be arrogant to say that we do it better than anyone else locally, but I will say that we are good at what we do. 
Scaling and polishing of the teeth is only a single step in our "dental" procedure.

So what does a dental check involve? 
  •  It starts with a G'day! and a Welcome.  We love happy visits, and we look at dental checks as a "happy" visit. 
  • Then a trip to the scales for a weigh in -  No its not a Weight Watchers meeting but we need to know.  Our dentistry prices are based on two things – your pet’s weight and dental grade (0-4).
  •  We will scan your pet’s microchip, and check the database. We will also give you information on how to update your pet’s microchip details.
  •  A happy visit – lots of treats, an Adaptil or Feliway sprayed bandanna to reduce arousal, and the feeding of treats.   We know that the more visits pets have which are “happy” and “stress free”, then the happier and stress free everyone is, including the vet and owner.
  •   Flipping the lip – going through the oral cavity as thoroughly as we can – Of course, I am still waiting for Superman to send over his xray vision eyes for me to use to really identify pathology in your pet’s mouth, but we can get a rough guide through a conscious examination. 

a.       We will try to count teeth, making sure that your pet has 42 if they are a dog, and 30 if they are a cat.
b.      We look for any fractured or chipped teeth
c.       We look at the gums – are they nice and pink, or red and swollen.
d.      We check for the gum margin itself – is it recessed (like the balding man), is there pus peeking through from under the gum/tooth margin?
e.      We check on how the teeth are actually sitting within the head – is there any soft tissue impact, or even tooth on tooth impact.  What about the wear on the teeth themselves (usually through rocks or tennis balls).
f.        We watch for how the tongue may be sitting, and if there are any unusual swellings in or around the mouth or under the tongue.
g.       Visually assessing the degree of bone loss around the tooth (although radiographs and use of a dental probe under anaesthesia is the best way to do this)
h.      And then finally, checking the degree of tartar on the tooth surface.

  •   More happy visit time activities, with lots of liver treats whilst we discuss our findings with you.

Many pet owners are as what they think is dental disease is the brown stuff on the teeth. Many think that the dental check only looks at point "h" above, and they can do that perfectly well at home. If that was all we did, then those pet owners are right.

You do not need a vet degree to know that there is brown stuff on your pets teeth, or to recognise the bad breath either.

But, a dental savvy veterinarian is going to be able to identify  areas of concern that can be otherwise easily missed.

We  (the dental savvy veterinarian) are the true local pet dental expert.Don;'t be fooled by the wannabes.

What else? 

We look at dental checks as a way of ongoing education of the importance of oral health.  We know that it is an ongoing battle, and that it is not easy.  We know this as we also have pets of our own. 

Piper, our dog is only 3 years old, and when she had an undercover vet check by a veterinary student at Camden Pet Fair recently, we were told that there was tartar building up on her back teeth. 

We had her teeth cleaned a week later.   I wasn't offended as an owner, I was thankful that the vet-to-be was thorough in his examination, and gave me the kick up the bum to book Piper in for the procedure which I knew she had to have).  

It was also good opportunity for our vet nurse Tegan to learn the steps, and she did an exceptional job. Piper's breath is now sweet smelling!
Vet Nurse Tegan cleaning Piper's teeth. 

Does this help? 

Let me know what you think, and especially any suggestions on how we can improve pet dental checks.

I am Dr Liz, the mad vet from Bellambi.  Like all of the other vets out there, we are here to help you help keep your pet happy and healthy.  Help us be able to do what we love to do, by coming in to see us.