Veterinary Dentistry is a field of Veterinary care where there has been huge progress in recent times. It is now 18 years since I joined Donaldsons Vets, and the way that we now approach dental health has been transformed over that time.
Plaque and tartar build up on the teeth is still a common issue, but many of the top quality pet foods are now designed with the maintenance of good dental health as an objective. Where soft tinned foods have a tendency to stick to the teeth and encourage decay, biscuit foods help to scrape the teeth and limit to progression of tartar. Special dental biscuits have a honeycomb structure and are even more effective at cleaning the teeth and can be used in pets where tartar accumulation is a particular problem.
Vets also stock a range of tooth pastes which are formulated for dogs. Some toothpastes need to be applied with a brush but some can be added to the food making the process much easier.
We now have specialist dental X ray facilities which allow us to take the sort of high quality X rays of the tooth roots that you might expect from your own dentist. The ability to assess the health of the portion of tooth bellow the gum line as well as the crown which can be seen with the naked eye can be really important. Assessing the root on X ray and aggressively treating root infections with antibiotics can sometimes allow us to save a tooth that we would otherwise have had to remove.
Unfortunately, some teeth are beyond repair and the only course of action is removal of the tooth. Some of the larger teeth towards the back of a dogs mouth have very large roots and conventional removal can necessitate quite a lot of force on the tooth and jaw. The result is a dog who needs high levels of pain relief following dental extractions. Now, with the kind of equipment we have available, we can use high speed burs to section the crown of the tooth so that we can take out each root individually. This results in a much less painful process.
Though we are not quite at the stage of offering veneers and cosmetic whitening Veterinary Dentistry continues to be an area of rapid progress .