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How important is it to worry about my pet’s teeth?

At Trinity Veterinary Hospital, we’re here to help your animals stay healthy, giving individualized care to maintain their well-being.  Dental disease is the most common clinical condition occurring in dogs and cats and can cause serious health risks including heart, lung, kidney and liver disease.  By three years of age, most dogs and cats have clinically significant levels of tartar or plaque.  Unfortunately, many pets do not show pain or other clinical signs, other than bad breath, to alarm their owners of this dangerous disease process. Professional dental cleaning and periodontal therapy often comes too late to prevent extensive disease or to save teeth.

Dental Facts

  • Dogs have 28 baby teeth and 42 permanent teeth.
  • Cats have 26 baby teeth and 30 permanent teeth.
  • Most adult teeth are in by 6 months of age.
  • Broken teeth are a common problem.  Chewing on hard objects is a primary cause of broken teeth.
  • 28% of cats develop at least one painful tooth lesion during their lifetime.
  • 85% of all pets have some form of oral disease by age three.
  • Dental disease is more common in smaller breeds.

How are my pet’s teeth like an iceberg?

Periodontal disease begins when bacteria in the mouth form a substance called plaque that sticks to the surface of the teeth.  Subsequently, minerals in the saliva harden the plaque into dental calculus (tartar), which is firmly attached to the teeth.  Tartar above the gum line is obvious to many owners but is not of itself the cause of disease.  

The real problem develops as plaque and calculus spread under the gum line.  Bacteria in this ‘sub-gingival’ plaque set in motion a cycle of damage to the supporting tissues around the tooth, eventually leading to loss of the tooth.  Bacteria under the gum line secrete toxins, which contribute to the tissue damage if untreated.  These bacteria also stimulate the animal’s immune system.  The initial changes cause white blood cells and inflammatory chemical signals to move into the periodontal space (between the gum or bone and the tooth).  The function of the white blood cells is to destroy the bacterial invaders, but chemicals released by the overwhelmed white blood cells caused damage to the supporting tissues of the tooth.  Instead of helping the problem, the patient’s own protective system actually worsens the disease when there is severe build-up of plaque and tartar. 

Periodontal disease includes gingivitis (inflammation/reddening of the gums) and periodontitis (loss of bone and soft tissue around the teeth).  There is a wide range in the appearance and severity of periodontal disease, which often cannot be properly evaluated or treated without general anesthesia for veterinary patients.  Effects within the oral cavity include damage to or loss of gum tissue and bone around the teeth, development of a hole from the oral cavity into the nasal passages causing nasal discharge, fractures of the jaw following weakening of the jawbone and bone infection.  Bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and are carried around the body.  Studies in dogs have shown that periodontal disease is associated with microscopic changes in the heart, liver and kidneys.



Scaling removes plaque and tartar that has built up on the tooth, above and below the gumline.



Polishing removes residual plaque and smooths the tooth surface. This delays deposition of plaque and tartar after the cleaning.



Fluoride treatment strengthens tooth enamel and inhibits plaque formation.

To make an appointment, please contact us at (405) 533-0001. You can also book an appointment online.

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