DOES YOUR DOG HAVE A HEALTHY MOUTH?

Did you know that oral health has a significant impact on your pet’s quality of life, comfort, and even lifespan? February is Pet Dental Health Month, and it’s the perfect time to ensure that your loyal companion’s mouth and teeth are in peak condition. After all, your four-legged friend’s overall well-being depends on it!

Expect that your pet will need a professional oral evaluation and prophylaxis every 6-12 months by your veterinarian in addition to your home oral care plan.

At the Animal Clinic of Billings, we offer a free oral exam and, if further evaluation or a procedure is needed, we offer a discount incentive year-round to help get your pet the oral care they need and deserve!

Routine Dental check-ups with the veterinarian are essential for your companion’s well-being.  

Please call and schedule a dental appointment with one of our veterinarians today!

406-252-9499

REQUEST AN APPOINTMENT

WHAT DO VETERINARIANS LOOK FOR IN DOGS DURING A DENTAL EXAMINATION?

Veterinarians look for disease and signs of abnormality during a dental examination on a dog.

This includes:

  • Facial swelling
  • Cavities
  • Tooth abscesses
  • Tartar buildup
  • Periodontal disease
  • Crooked teeth or teeth that interfere with one another
  • Gingivitis
  • Broken teeth
  • Oral masses

At the Animal Clinic of Billings and Animal Surgery Clinic, our veterinarians will develop a customized plan just for your dog to address dental disease prevention, and if needed, dental treatment.

WHAT IS PERIODONTAL DISEASE IN DOGS?

Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition found in adult cats and dogs, and according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 85% of dogs and cats are affected by three years of age! Periodontal disease is usually difficult for pet owners to detect. Other than bad breath, it’s challenging to pinpoint evidence of its presence without a professional examination by a veterinarian.

Early detection of periodontal disease is critical because it can develop quickly and result in extensive and potentially irreversible damage to a dog’s teeth, gums, and jaw bone. As periodontal disease reaches an advanced stage, it can cause severe pain and serious health problems that extend well beyond the mouth.

With advancing periodontal disease, potentially dangerous bacteria gain access to the blood supply below the gum line and can seed other tissues throughout the body, potentially causing serious infections in organs such as the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys, among others. Untreated periodontal disease can also lead to tooth decay, tooth loss, resorption of the jaw bone, and fractures of the jaw.

If periodontal disease is left untreated in dogs, it will undoubtedly lead to infection, the loss of teeth, and a significant amount of pain and suffering for the animal.

Now want the good news? Periodontal disease is entirely preventable!

All you have to do to keep your dog free from pain and the perils of periodontal disease is schedule regular semi-annual dental examinations and teeth cleaning appointments with one of our veterinary dentists at the Animal Clinic of Billings and Animal Surgery Clinic. In maintaining proper oral health and hygiene for your canine companion, you are ensuring they don’t have to suffer in silence the severe pain that accompanies periodontal disease or any of the potential health risks that come with it.

WARNING SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DOG DENTAL ISSUES 

A dog’s teeth before a dental cleaning

A friend once told me there are seven P’s to success… Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Slightly crude, I realize, but I’ve found it to be entirely accurate in most circumstances.

The same dog’s teeth after a dental cleaning

Being a responsible pet parent means doing everything in your power to keep anything harmful from impacting your pet. In a world where many diseases are unfortunately not preventable, it is particularly important to do all we can to avert those diseases that are preventable. 

As with most conditions in veterinary medicine, the best and most affordable way to approach medical problems in dogs is, whenever possible, by preventing them from ever happening in the first place. Our veterinarians want what’s best for you and your dog, and we love to educate clients on preventive measures to keep your dog from developing periodontal or any other dental disease. The key to this is working together and being proactive in maintaining oral health.

veterinarianThe Animal Clinic of Billings and Animal Surgery Clinic’s owner and head veterinarian Ken Brown, DVM has a saying he likes to reference frequently with his clients.

“If it’s predictable, it’s preventable.” 
– Dr. Ken Brown, DVM – Animal Clinic of Billings and Animal Surgery Clinic owner, founder and head veterinary orthopedic surgeon

The importance of proper preventive health care initiatives for pets cannot be stressed enough. Dogs that do not receive periodic professional teeth cleanings from a veterinarian are far more likely to develop serious conditions in the future that can quickly end up costing their owner far more than the cost of years of preventive care.

dog in dental health exam with veterinarianOur veterinarians see examples of this all the time, and it’s why we can’t emphasize enough the importance of preventive veterinary care, especially when it comes to dental examinations and teeth cleaning. If you provide the basic health and maintenance requirements to care for your dog in the short-term properly, it will likely save you money, and potential heartache, in the long-term, as well as help your best friend live the happiest and fullest life they possibly can.

Like humans, pets that lack proper oral and dental hygiene can develop illnesses such as gingivitis and periodontitis. If your cat or dog displays symptoms such as foul-smelling breath, pawing at the face or mouth area, difficulty chewing food, reddened gums, tooth discoloration, or it has been more than one year since a regular veterinary check-up, contact your veterinarian.

What does it mean if my dog has really bad breath?

When a dog has bad breath, it typically means there is an abundance of harmful bacteria living in and around the dog’s periodontal tissues, causing chronic infection and disease inside your dog’s mouth. Some people mistakenly believe that bad breath can be normal in some breeds, but this is not the case. The presence of bad breath is never normal or healthy. 

Dogs have certainly done their part to contribute to misconceptions regarding the cause of foul-smelling breath through their habits of eating feces and dead carcasses, drinking from the toilet, and orally grooming body parts we consider unsanitary. However, these practices alone are not the sole or even primary source of bad breath. 

Bad breath in dogs is the result of one thing and one thing only: the presence of progressive dental disease that will continue to get worse without proper dental care. The only way to solve any progressive dental disease is by a thorough veterinary dental cleaning and implementation of a proper home care dental plan.

How do I prevent tooth and gum disease in my dog?

The rules of prevention are the same, whether the teeth belong to a human or a pet. Dental health needs to be a dedicated daily ritual for pet parents.

dog with toothbrush in it's mouthTo keep the spread of disease-causing oral bacteria to a minimum, it is important that you establish regular home care involving an oral hygiene routine for your pet that includes:

  • Regular veterinary dental exams
  • Daily brushing and oral rinses
  • Dental treats, health chews and diets
  • Use of dentifrices, gels, wipes or water additives

FLIP A LIP!

We recommend you flip your pet’s lips routinely to check their gums and teeth, paying particular attention to the back of the mouth. Even if you don’t notice any abnormalities, you should never underestimate the importance of regular check-ups with your veterinarian.

Remember, your pet needs and deserves regular dental care, which is why we offer a free oral exam to new clients at the Animal Clinic of Billings and Animal Surgery Clinic. Please come see us and take advantage of this offer by letting one of our veterinarians examine your dog or cat’s mouth free of charge for your first doggie dental check-up. We recommend that all dogs get checked for dental problems and get their teeth cleaned by a veterinarian at least once a year.

If your dog displays any of the following symptoms listed below, he or she may already have serious dental disease, and you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian immediately:

  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Difficulty eating or chewing food
  • Loss of appetite
  • Red, swollen, bleeding gums (often surrounding the back molars)
  • Discolored or missing teeth
  • Broken or loose teeth
  • Nasal discharge or bloody saliva
  • Swelling around the face or mouth
  • Lesions or open sores in the mouth
  • Extra teeth or the overcrowding of teeth
  • Retained baby teeth in adults or misaligned teeth
  • Abnormal chewing, excessive drooling, or food falling from the mouth when eating
  • Unexplained irritability or behavioral changes

If you see your dog exhibiting any of the symptoms listed above, please call to schedule a dental examination appointment with one of our veterinarians right away.

406-252-9499

What’s the best dog food for dogs with dental health problems?

Appropriate nutrition is one of the most critically important aspects of a dog’s health and well-being. Be aware of the foods your pet is eating and ask your veterinarian if the food selection you’re feeding your dog is right for their dietary needs.

Diet is an enormous factor in your pet’s dental health, and there are food options available to help dogs combat dental diseases and tartar buildup. High-quality dry food and chew treats fight tartar and plaque better than canned varieties or leftover “people food,” and selecting the best option for your dog’s individualized dental and health needs should be done with the help of your veterinarian.

At the Animal Clinic of Billings, we offer the best Hill’s and Royal Canin varieties of dog and cat food available to help keep your pet as healthy as possible. Ask us about food options, and we’ll recommend what’s best for your dog.

Dog dental cleaning and dentistry veterinary services in Billings

At the Animal Clinic of Billings and Animal Surgery Clinic, our veterinarians proudly offer everything from routine teeth cleaning to advanced dental surgery procedures for both dogs and cats.

What if my dog has a dental disease?

A dental examination at the Animal Clinic of Billings and Animal Surgery Clinic comes as a first step and simply allows one of our veterinarians to peer inside your dog’s mouth to see if any serious dental problems are present. If our veterinarian finds any dental issues in your dog’s mouth, they will then explain to you what they see and recommend the most appropriate treatment plan.

If the diagnosis is severe enough to necessitate dental surgery, your dog will be placed under general anesthesia so the veterinarian can take digital dental X-rays of the jaws and teeth, followed by a thorough examination of your dog’s mouth, including the teeth, gums, tongue, palate, cheeks, throat, and tonsils.

The veterinarian will also probe between the teeth and gums to determine the presence and degree of periodontal attachment loss from infection. All of these steps are important because more than half of each tooth is buried deep beneath the gum line, and often those are the areas most affected by dental diseases.

Many times, a tooth may look completely normal to the veterinarian upon the initial examination, but x-rays reveal that the roots are broken or abscessed below the gum line and require treatment.

Unfortunately, in these cases, the dog is most likely suffering from a significant amount of oral pain. If this is the case, and we find a significant dental problem in your dog, you can rest assured that our skilled and experienced veterinarians will make sure your dog walks away from his or her dental procedure completely free of pain and having had their periodontal disease treated as effectively as possible.

Anesthesia during dental surgery on dogs

The use of general anesthesia is necessary for our veterinarians to adequately perform dental examinations, dental x-rays, teeth cleanings, tooth extractions, and other dental procedures. Before undergoing anesthesia, a physical exam and pre-anesthesia lab work are performed to evaluate each patient for conditions that may increase anesthetic risk.

Our anesthesia medications and protocols are the safest and most reliable available, and we continually monitor your dog throughout their entire procedure, and during recovery until they are awake and alert.

Once a pet is under anesthesia, ultrasonic and hand scaling is performed to remove tartar and plaque buildup above, below, and around the gum line. Thoroughly scaling below the gum line is critical to the success of any dental cleaning in dogs because tarter harboring disease-causing bacteria accumulates in the space between the gum and the tooth.

Polishing the teeth after scaling smooths each tooth’s surface, making it harder for plaque to adhere to your dog’s teeth in the future.

Your dog’s mouth is then vigorously flushed to remove dislodged tartar, plaque and bacteria.

If the veterinarian finds a diseased tooth that requires extraction, or if there’s a problem with the gums that need to be addressed, oral surgery will be recommended.

ADVANCED ORAL AND DENTAL SURGERY ON DOGS

Our veterinarians routinely provide the following oral surgical procedures:

  • oral tumor removal and removal of excessive gum
  • tooth extractions
  • gingival surgery
  • tooth sealants

The Animal Clinic of Billings and Animal Surgery Clinic is equipped to precisely perform a variety of oral surgeries so our veterinarians can help your canine companion live a healthy and happy life.

WHY DOES MY DOG NEED ANESTHESIA FOR A DENTAL CLEANING PROCEDURE?

When you go to your dentist, you understand that what is being done is meant to help keep you and your mouth healthy. Because of this, we accept the discomfort we experience while at the dentist and do our best to keep still with our mouths wide open.

Your dog, on the other hand, does not understand the benefit of a dental procedure and he or she will undoubtedly react by struggling, attempting to flee, or even biting the veterinarian if allowed to remain awake, which could easily result in injury to themselves or the veterinarian.

Anesthesia makes it possible to perform the procedure with minimal stress or discomfort for your pet and allows for a far superior cleaning and evaluation, which includes dental radiographs (x-rays) and probing below the gum line.

Cosmetic cleanings or “non-anesthetic” cleanings can actually make the existing dental disease worse and do not address periodontal disease where it occurs and where scaling is the most important: under the gum line.

HOW TO SCHEDULE A DENTAL APPOINTMENT FOR YOUR DOG

Scheduling a canine dental appointment for your dog is as easy as picking up the phone, sending us an email from our CONTACT page here on our website, or clicking the button below to request an appointment online. Our veterinary staff is here to help in every way that we can to make your dog’s dentistry appointment as easy, painless, and pleasant as possible for both you and your canine companion.

REQUEST AN APPOINTMENT

Remember, routine dental check-ups with the veterinarian are essential for your companion’s well-being. That’s why the Animal Clinic of Billings offers a free oral exam and, if further evaluation or a procedure is needed, we offer a discount incentive year-round to help get your pet the oral care they need and deserve!

Please call and schedule an appointment today!

406-252-9499

MORE DOG VETERINARY SERVICES

ANIMAL CLINIC OF BILLINGS AND ANIMAL SURGERY CLINIC

providing our region’s companion animals and their families what they need and deserve since 1981

1414 10th St. West, Billings MT 59102

406-252-9499

REQUEST AN APPOINTMENT