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FAQs Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment

Below you will find the most commonly asked questions to help you save time and get instant answers. If you need further information, please reach out to connect with us.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is dental care important for my pet?
Poor dental hygiene and untreated dental issues can lead to pain, infection, tooth loss in pets. It is also closely connected to more severe medical conditions impacting the heart, liver, kidneys, and other vital organs. Regular dental examinations and professional dental cleanings by a veterinarian are essential for avoiding dental disease and maintaining your pet’s overall well-being and quality of life.
What does dental disease mean?
Dental disease refers to any disease affecting the teeth and gums and any underlying bony structures. The most common disease we see in pets is periodontal disease.
What does periodontal disease mean?

Periodontal disease refers to inflammation and infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. It is caused by plaque buildup on teeth which leads to infection of the gums and tooth sockets. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and damage to the bone.

The stages of periodontal disease in pets include:

  1. Gingivitis: inflammation of the gums, characterized by redness, swelling, and bad breath. It is the only stage that is reversible with proper treatment and at-home dental care.
  2. Periodontitis: infection and inflammation of the gums and tooth sockets. It leads to loss of attachment between the teeth and gums and bone loss. It is not reversible but can be managed long-term with treatment and home care.
  3. Severe periodontitis: severe infection leading to significant bone loss, abscesses, and eventual tooth loss if left untreated. Treatment at this stage may be more complex.
What are the signs of dental disease?
Some signs to watch out for include bad breath, visible tartar buildup on teeth, bleeding or swollen gums, excessive drooling or dropping food, and difficulty eating. Some pets may paw at their mouth if they’re experiencing pain but some pets are very good at hiding their pain even if they are experiencing it. The earlier dental disease is detected, the better, as advanced dental problems can be painful and lead to serious health issues if left untreated.
What can happen if dental disease goes untreated?
Poor dental health can lead to tooth loss, gum disease, and oral infections. Bacteria from the mouth can also enter the bloodstream, increasing the risk of damage to the heart, liver, and kidneys. Dental disease left unaddressed may significantly decrease a pet’s quality of life and lifespan.
When should I start taking care of my pet’s teeth?
You need to start taking care of your pet’s teeth from an early age. Proper dental care for pets includes a combination of at home dental care and professional dental care such as oral exams, dental x-rays and scaling/polishing.
What are some at home dental care options?
  • Teeth brushing: A soft-bristled pet toothbrush or finger brush are ideal for brushing teeth.
  • Toothpaste: Enzymatic toothpastes formulated for pets. Human toothpastes can not be used as it is toxic to pets
  • Dental wipes
  • Water additives
  • Dental diets
  • Dental chews/treats

Look for products carrying the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)

How frequently should I brush my pet's teeth to maintain good oral health?
The gold standard for brushing a pet’s teeth is daily or minimum every other day. It’s best to start brushing a pet’s teeth early in life so they can get accustomed to it, but don’t worry if you’re just starting – with patience and positive reinforcement, many pets can become comfortable with a dental care routine.
How can I make brushing my pet's teeth easier and less stressful for them?
Start slowly and let your pet become accustomed to having their mouth handled in a positive, rewarding way. Give lots of praise and treats during short brushing sessions. You can also try special toothpaste flavors that appeal to pets, such as poultry or beef. Make brushing fun by speaking in an encouraging tone. Only introduce the toothbrush for a few seconds at first, and gradually increase brushing time over weeks or months as your pet becomes more comfortable. Patience and consistency are key.
If I have an at home dental care routine, do I still need to bring my pet in for professional dental care?
Yes, at-home dental care routines are good for maintaining oral health between professional dental cleanings. Professional dental care under anesthesia allows for a thorough cleaning below the gumline, dental x-rays to check for problems below the surface, and any necessary extractions or other procedures that cannot be performed at home. While at-home care is important, it is not a substitute for professional veterinary dentistry.
What does a professional dental procedure involve?

A professional dental procedure or comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment (COHAT) includes:

  1. A full physical exam and pre-anesthesia lab testings to ensure our patients are healthy to undergo an anesthetic procedure.
  2. A full oral examination under anesthesia. This includes evaluation of facial bones/joints, tongue, cheeks, lips, hard palate etc.
  3. Probing of each individual tooth. This includes evaluations of pocket depth, calculus buildup, gingivitis, fractures, resorptive lesions, mobility etc
  4. Full mouth dental radiographs for evaluation of teeth roots
  5. Calculus removal from the visible part (supragingival) of the teeth. This improves the appearance of the teeth
  6. Calculus removal below the gumline (subgingival). This is where bacteria is active.
  7. Tooth polishing to smooth enamel surface. Uneven surfaces make it easier for plaque and calculus to build up.
  8. Rinse of periodontal pockets with an antimicrobial solution
  9. Dental nerve blocks and extractions if required.
  10. Dental charting for patient’s medical record
  11. Home care instructions on oral hygiene
  12. Follow up appointments and routine rechecks for oral assessment.
What can I expect during my pet's dental procedure?

Why is anesthesia necessary?
Anesthesia is required to provide pain management, muscle relaxation, and safety for the pets. Dental procedures can be painful and stressful and anesthesia allows the procedures to be performed without the patient feeling discomfort or distress. Anesthesia relaxes the jaw muscles to allow access to the teeth and gums to allow proper removal of bacteria under the gumline.

Dental procedure under anesthesia is the only way to properly assess and treat dental diseases.

Is anesthesia safe?

No anesthesia is without risks. Therefore, all anesthesia requires careful planning and constant monitoring to reduce and minimize the risk. The risk of anesthesia-related death in pets is extremely low, around 0.05-0.11% for most procedures. At Point Grey Veterinary Hospital, we use tools outlined below to ensure every anesthetic procedure is

  • Pre-anesthetic blood tests to help identify health issues to address before anesthesia
  • Anesthesia conducted by licensed veterinarians and registered veterinary technicians
  • Using tailored anesthetic drugs, fluid rate for each individual pet’s needs
  • IV catheter is placed for delivery of medication and IV fluids
  • Continuous monitoring of vital signs like heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and body temperature during anesthesia
  • Continuous monitoring of vital signs and patient comfort during recovery after the procedure is done
How often does a COHAT need to be done?
Routine professional dental procedure is recommended at least once a year depending on the size, breed and age of your pet. For severe tartar buildup or dental disease, professional dental cleanings is the only effective treatment.
Why is anesthesia-free dentistry bad?
Non-anesthetic dentistry does not contribute to treating our pet’s dental disease and thus is only done for cosmetic purposes. Non anesthetic dentistry is not only ineffective in cleaning the teeth below the gumline, it also creates significant stress and pain for our pets.
What does the day look like when my pet is scheduled for a COHAT?
The procedure is performed on Weekdays. Drop off time is at 8:15am. A typical procedure takes 1-3 hours but more involved procedures may require more time. Our team members will continue to monitor your pet during recovery to ensure they are safe and ready to go home. Discharge time is generally between 3-5pm. Home care instructions will be discussed at the time of discharge.
How much do dental procedures typically cost?
The cost will vary depending on the specific treatment, but you can expect to pay between $900 to $1200 for a routine dental cleaning and oral exam. Tooth extractions will increase the price. For specific treatment plan estimates, please contact our clinic and speak to our trained team members.
What happens if my pet’s tooth is fractured?

A fractured tooth in a pet will typically require treatment by a veterinarian. Treatment options depends on the severity of the fracture:

  • Minor chips in the enamel of the tooth may not require immediate treatment. However, the tooth should be monitored for signs of pain, infection, or pulp exposure.
  • Pulp exposure: If the fracture exposes the inner pulp of the tooth, a pulpectomy or root canal procedure may be recommended to prevent infection and save the tooth. If the tooth is severely damaged, extraction is usually the best option. These procedures are done with a dental specialist.
  • Tooth fracture into the root: Fractures that extend into the root of the tooth below the gumline will require extraction. The root fragments will need to be removed to prevent infection. The gums will then need to be surgically closed.
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