Dental Facts

1. Dogs have 42 permanent teeth. 20 on the top, and 22 on the bottom.
2. Cats have 30 permanent teeth. 16 on the top, and 14 on the bottom.
3. Over 68% of all pets over the age of 3 years have some form of periodontal or 
dental disease. 
4. Dental disease is THE most common disease in dogs and cats.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is inflammation or infection of the tissues around the teeth. This results from build-up of soft dental plaque on the surfaces of the teeth around the gums. If allowed to accumulate, the bacteria within the plaque irritate the gum tissue, often leading to infection that can cause damage to the surrounding bone. 
Signs of periodontal disease can include: bad breath, sore mouth, difficulty eating, loose teeth, pawing or rubbing at the mouth, bleeding gums, yellow or brown tartar buildup, or drooling. 

There are four stages of periodontal disease:
Stage 1 (Gingivitis)- appears as redness at the gum line and bad breath can be present. 
Stage 2 (Advanced Gingivitis)- appears as redness and gum swelling. Plaque and calculus are present. 
Stage 3 (Periodontitis)- Swollen gums and calculus is present. Tooth may start to become loose due to loss of gum attachment to the tooth.
Stage 4 (Advanced Periodontitis)-Gum recession, loose teeth, and some bone loss around tooth.

Common Oral Problems

Broken or Worn Teeth- Broken teeth usually occur when a pet has been chewing on a hard object like a bone or a hard toy. However, broken teeth can also occur when a pet has experienced head trauma from a blunt object or hit by a car. Pets can also break teeth if they get into fights with other animals. Worn teeth can occur if a pet has a malocculsion or abnormal positioning of the teeth. Worn teeth can also occur if that pet chews on abrasive toys like tennis balls, or if they chew at their hair coat.

Stomatitis- Sotmatitis is defined as severe inflammation of the tissues within the mouth causing ulcerations. This problem is only found in cats.

Oral Masses- There are many different kinds of oral masses but the two most common are Squamous cell carcinomas and malignant melanomas. Squamous cell carcinomas make up 20-30% of all oral masses. The most common sites to find them are in the premolar/ molar region and under the tongue. Malignant Melanomas are usually only found in dogs and make up 30-40% of oral masses. More than 50% of cases end up with bone invasion and most have poor prognosis.

Resorptive Lesions- Are only found in cats and are what they seem to be. The lesions are caused on the tooth by the body trying to re-absorb the tooth.They are located around the gum line of the cat and are very painful; however, most will go unnoticed. There is no definite cause as to why the body does this.

Dental Cleaning Procedure

If it was recommended that your pet have a dental cleaning, he/she will be undergoing an anesthetic procedure that is usually pain-free. The only exception to that is if your pet has advanced stages of gum disease or needs extractions. At out clinic, dental cleaning is an outpatient procedure. You drop off your pet in the morning and pick them up later that afternoon. Once your pet has been cleared to go under anesthesia we start to clean the teeth. We, like most other veterinarians, use what is called an ultrasonic scaler. This tool is what actually cleans the tartar and calculus build-up off the teeth. When the teeth are clean we use a polisher, similar to what is use on humans. The polisher will fill in any microscopic scrapes on the surface of the teeth, which will help keep the population of bacteria down. If your pet needs teeth extracted, the veterinarian will then pull any teeth that need to come out.