Pet Dental Care

The Importance of Dental Care for Your Pet

Dental CareGood dental hygiene, including regular dental check-ups and teeth cleanings, can increase your pet's health, vitality, and well-being, and help ensure your pet leads the best life possible. Proper dental care not only prevents dental and systemic disease, but it also helps minimize the lifetime cost of care for your pet.

If left untreated, dental disease can not only be painful and inhibit proper nutrition, but it can also lead to serious systemic issues that may threaten your pet's health before symptoms are noticeable. For example, oral bacteria that enter the bloodstream can damage your pet's kidneys, heart or liver.

The veterinarians and medical team at Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital are concerned about the dental health of your pet. That is why we have completed multiple hours of continuing education and hands-on training in veterinary dentistry.

Your Pet's Dental Cleanings

Dentistry for your pet is quite different from human dentistry. For most of us, caring for our teeth and gums has been part of our daily routine for as long as we can remember. Consequently, a person's visit to the dentist is relatively brief and does not require sedation.

In contrast, your pet's dental care is considerably more involved, time consuming and complex. It requires general anesthesia and, consequently, a day's hospitalization and the skills of several people, from veterinarians to veterinary technicians and assistants.

Pre-Dental Workup

A pre-dental workup involves laboratory and diagnostic tests to better evaluate your pet's current health status and to assure safe anesthesia. Current medical problems must be evaluated and any possible unknown problems must be identified prior to dentistry.

For all pets, regardless of age, we suggest a brief in-hospital blood screen on the day of the dentistry. For older animals, a complete blood count (CBC) and blood chemistry profile is performed prior to the dentistry.

Your pet's dental cleaning begins with a physical examination. This is important to evaluate your pet's general health. After the physical exam, your pet is given anesthesia for a safe and painless sleep during the dental cleaning.

The first part of animal dental cleaning requires the removal of tartar. This is done by hand, using tartar forceps.

Next, an ultrasonic scaler is used above and below the gumline. Once the teeth have been thoroughly cleaned a periodontal probe is used to check for pockets below the gumline. Deep pockets mean periodontal disease and infection. If deep pockets are found they are cleaned by hand using a curette to remove plaque and tartar from the exposed root surfaces. Your pet's teeth are then polished, creating a smooth surface. The gums are washed with an anti-bacterial solution to help delay tartar build-up both below the gumline and on the crown of the tooth. Finally, the doctor also administers a fluoride treatment to strengthen your pet's teeth, desensitize exposed roots, and decrease infection.

Dental Before and After


Home Dental Care

Preventing periodontal disease by keeping your pet's teeth and gums healthy isn't just a job for your veterinarian; it's your job too. While nothing can take the place of regular visits to Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital for checkups and cleanings, ongoing follow-up oral care at home is just as important in controlling plaque and tartar formation.

The goal of home dental care is to remove plaque before it mineralizes into calculus (tartar), a process that occurs within days of a teeth cleaning. Brushing your pet's teeth is the single most important procedure you can do to maintain good oral health. If performed regularly, brushing dramatically decreases the incidence of gingivitis and increases the interval between teeth cleaning appointments.

Brushing your pet's teeth is best started at a young age, before the adult teeth erupt. The younger the animal is, the more likely he or she is to accept it. Regular brushing not only keeps your pet's teeth clean and healthy, it also enhances the bond between you and your pet. If you are unsure of how to brush your pet's teeth, please ask a staff member at Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital for instructions. We are happy to instruct and/or demonstrate to you the best and easiest method. Also, please remember to always use tooth paste specifically made for pets, not for people. If brushing your pet's teeth is not possible, ask a staff member to help you select the most effective dental products for your pet.

You should also be able to recognize the signs of poor oral health. If you notice any of the following, you should contact us and make a dental appointment for your pet:

  • Persistent bad breath, one of the first signs of dental disease
  • Tartar or plaque buildup (ask your veterinarian how to identify them)
  • A yellowish-brown crust of plaque on the teeth near the gum line
  • Red and swollen gums
  • Pain or bleeding when your pet eats or when the mouth or gums are touched
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Decreased appetite or difficulty eating
  • Loose or missing teeth

The staff at Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital is dedicated to educating you about the importance of your pet's dental health. Please call (661) 327-4444 or email us to ask about the home care products we offer, which are carefully researched and selected for optimum health benefits.