Dental health is a very important part of your pet’s overall health, and dental problems can cause, or be caused by, other health problems. Your pet’s teeth and gums should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian to check for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.
Have your pet’s teeth checked sooner if you observe any of the following problems:
What is veterinary dentistry, and who should perform it?
Veterinary dentistry includes the cleaning, adjustment, filing, extraction, or repair of your pets' teeth and all other aspects of oral health care. These procedures should be performed by a veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary dentist. Subject to state or provincial regulation, veterinary technicians are allowed to perform certain dental procedures under the supervision of a veterinarian.
The process begins with an oral exam of your pet’s mouth by a veterinarian. Because most dental disease occurs below the gumline, where you can’t see it, radiographs (x-rays) should be taken to evaluate the health of the jaw and the tooth roots below the gumline. A thorough dental cleaning and evaluation are performed under anesthesia. Dental cleaning includes scaling (to remove dental plaque and tartar) and polishing, similar to the process used on your own teeth during your regular dental cleanings. Any treatments, such as extractions (removal of teeth), cleaning under the gumline (subgingival scaling or curettage) are typically done at the same visit unless otherwise recommended by your veterinarian.
Dental Radiographs (X-rays) in Veterinary Patients
Oral health in dogs and cats
Dental radiographs are one of the most important diagnostic tools available to a veterinary dentist. They allow the internal anatomy of the teeth, the roots and the bone that surrounds the roots to be examined.
Intra-oral radiographs are made using small radiographic films or digital sensors placed inside the patient’s mouth, and provide superior quality for examination of individual teeth or sections of the jaws compared with standard-sized veterinary radiographs. Because veterinary patients will not cooperate when a radiograph or sensor is placed in the mouth, taking dental radiographs requires that the patient is anesthetized or sedated.
The radiation risk to the patient from taking dental radiographs is minimal.