Dental Hygiene and Oral Care

Andover Animal Hospital pet dental hygine
Don't ignore your pet's bad breath! Dental hygiene is often the cause of stinky breath, and it may indicate other important problems with your pet's health. We understand how easy it is to miss - many of the problems that stem from poor hygiene occur where you can't see them, below your pet's gum line.
The first line of defense is always home care. But while some animals (especially dogs) tolerate their owners handling their mouths and brushing their teeth, most (especially cats) will struggle or act out. That can always make oral care difficult at best, and ineffective at worst.


The best way to ensure your pet's oral health is to have regular cleanings at our office. Discuss how often you ought to come in as well as a home hygiene regimen with your vet. This will also prevent dental issues from progressing to larger (and potentially deadly) internal issues, such as dysfunction or disease in the heart, kidneys, liver, or lungs.


In the wild, hiding pain, illness, or other weaknesses are survival instincts; many times your pet will have the same instincts, even in the safety and comfort of your loving home, so always keep an eye on your pet's eating habits and behaviors. Recognizing the difference between normal changes in mood and red flags can be difficult sometimes. What you interpret as a persistent grumpiness may actually be a sign that your pet is in pain. New irritability, shying away from being touched (especially on the face and around the mouth or throat), sluggishness, loss of appetite or difficulty eating, and lethargy are all behavioral signs which may indicate illness.


However, if you note any of the following physical changes, contact your vet immediately:


  • Red and swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums, especially when eating or when having teeth brushed
  • Swelling around the mouth
  • Oral abscesses
  • Abnormal chewing
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Crusted build up at the edge of the gums
  • Persistent bad or fetid breath
  • Excessive drooling
  • Weight loss

Remember, preventing oral infections and disease will help your pet live a longer, healthier life. Furthermore, caring for your pet with regular cleanings now will save you money later. In 2013, VPI Pet Insurance priced the cost of treatment for dental diseases at more than $530 on average. Our prices for regular cleanings are much less than that!

Anesthesia for procedures


We always recommend and utilize the use of anesthesia for all dental procedures.
There are always risks when using an anesthetic, however, these risks are outweighed by the fact that this makes all procedures safer for your pet, safer for the vet, and ensures efficacy. Attempting procedures without anesthesia can present other dangers to the animal or vet. Especially when work needs to be done under the gum line, any movement could mean harm to your pet from our dental equipment.
After all, your pet cannot have a reasoned discussion with our staff the way you can with your dentist; procedures are likely to make them afraid, and they will probably try to get away. Animals who are in pain will act defensively and are likely to bite. Even when they're healthy, most animals cannot hold still enough or hold still long enough for procedures like X-rays to be completed correctly.
Advances in the latest anesthetics means that for most normal procedures, your pet can go home on the very same day. Your pet may remain groggy, but behavior should return to normal the next day.

Procedures we offer


The procedures we use to treat your pet's mouth are very close to the procedures a dentist uses for you. An examination is performed before any procedure.
Your pet's health is as important to us as it is to you. That's why we provide a full offering of dental procedures. These include:


Hygiene:
  • Scaling (removal of plaque and tartar above the gum line)
  • Polishing
  • Filing
  • Cleaning plaque and tartar below the gum line
  • Examining below the gum line for signs of disease (X-ray)
Oral Procedures:
  • Endodontic therapy (Root canals)
  • Tooth restoration
  • Orthodontics
  • Periodontal disease treatments
  • Infection treatment
Surgical procedures:
  • Fracture repairs
  • Extraction of teeth or dental pulp
  • Oral cancer or cysts treatment
  • Cleft palate treatment
  • Tooth abscess treatment