At Ali`i Veterinary Hospital, we take pet dental care seriously. Why? Because good dental health has been shown to help pets enjoy longer, healthier lives. We’re proud to be area leaders in dental for dogs and cats and encourage you to bring your animal companion or companions in to see our Kailua-Kona veterinary team for regular pet dental exams.
Common Pet Dental Problems
Dogs and cats experience many of the same dental health problems as humans. This includes gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and a more advanced form of gingivitis known as periodontal disease.
Gingivitis and periodontal disease develop when bacteria in the mouth build up in the gums and other tissues. These bacteria create a sticky substance called plaque, which forms in a layer over the teeth. If the plaque isn’t removed, it can harden into a substance known as tartar. Unlike plaque, tartar can’t be removed with at-home strategies like tooth brushing—only a veterinary dentist can remove tartar using specialized tools during a pet dental exam.
The problem with plaque and tartar build-up is that it can irritate and inflame the tissues inside a pet’s mouth. Over time, this will damage the gums and other structures surrounding the teeth, which may lead to problems like tooth loss or infection (abscess). Gum inflammation also makes it easier for bacteria from a pet’s mouth to travel into the bloodstream and get carried to other parts of the body, such as the heart.
Other pet dental problems we evaluate and treat at our Kailua-Kona veterinary clinic include:
- Jawbone malocclusions
- Injury due to trauma, such as a broken jawbone or broken tooth
- Cancerous tumors in the mouth
Risk Factors for Pet Dental Problems
Did you know that by age 3, most pets have at least some degree of periodontal disease? Like humans, pets tend to be more at risk for dental health problems the older they get. The risk of pet dental problems may also be higher for certain animal breeds, but it’s important to know that any breed of cat or dog can be affected.
Other risk factors for pet dental disease are preventable, including poor diet and the use of certain medications. If you have questions about your pet’s diet, lifestyle, and medication, we encourage you to talk to us.
Does My Pet Have Dental Problems?
Pet dental problems arise in dogs and cats of all ages, breeds, and sizes. Unfortunately, many types of dental problems, including periodontal disease, don’t have any symptoms early on. You may not notice anything concerning until your pet’s dental health problem reaches a more advanced stage. Advanced pet dental problems are usually more difficult and more expensive to treat—and usually much more painful for your pet!
The good news: our Kailua-Kona veterinarian team can identify early warning signs of pet dental conditions on a routine pet dental exam. Early detection and treatment help your pet avoid painful issues and can minimize costs. We generally recommend twice-yearly visits with the pet dentist to optimally protect your pet’s teeth and gums.
If dental problems in your dog or cat become significant enough to cause noticeable signs, you may detect:
- Bad breath
- Red, swollen, and/or bloody gums
- Unusual lumps or bumps in the mouth
- Bloody saliva (it may have a reddish or pinkish hue)
- Teeth that are broken, loose, or missing
- Decreased appetite or decreased interest in food
- Signs of pain while chewing, eating, or drinking—for example, the pet may drool excessively, drop their food, chew on one side of the mouth, or yelp or make other vocalizations
The only way to know for sure if your pet has dental problems is to bring your animal in for an evaluation by an experienced veterinarian.
How Dental Health Affects Pet Wellness
Did you know that having good dental health can actually help your pet live longer? Not only that, but by keeping your pet’s teeth and gums clean, you can help them avoid many known complications associated with poor dental health. These complications can include:
- Tooth loss
- Jawbone fractures
- Increased risk of other underlying health conditions, including heart disease and diabetes
Dental Care With Our Kailua-Kona Veterinarian Team: What to Expect
Our animal hospital in Kailua-Kona is home to a board-certified veterinary dentist who can deliver personalized dental care for your pet. Whether your animal needs routine cleaning or minor oral surgery, we pledge to provide our pet dental services with the highest standards of safety and quality.
At our clinic, dental for dogs and cats may include:
- Pre-Operative Lab Work
- IV Catheterization
- Dental X-Rays
- Teeth Cleaning and Polishing
- Root Canals
- Dental Charting
- Tooth Extractions (when indicated)
- Other Types of Restorative Surgery
We’ll make sure you’re well-informed about your pet’s care options. We’re also happy to teach you effective ways to care for your pet’s dental health between visits, such as brushing their teeth and providing them with safer toys for healthier chewing.
Why Does My Pet Need Anesthesia for Dental Care?
We stand with the American Animal Hospital Association in requiring all animals to be put under general anesthesia during dental care (this includes during routine teeth cleaning and polishing). This will ensure your pet remains calm and comfortable during any diagnostic or therapeutic services, and helps keep them still, safe, and stress-free!
Sedating your pet also allows our staff to safely and thoroughly inspect their mouth and provide any necessary interventions. This way, we can deliver the highest quality care possible, allowing you and your pet to get the most out of your visits.
Preparing for a pet dental appointment? We’ll give you clear and simple instructions on how to get them ready. For instance, we may ask you to avoid giving your pet any food within 12 hours of your appointment.
During their appointment, your animal will be closely monitored by our experienced pet dental team. We’ll probably place an intravenous (IV) catheter in one of their limbs so we can easily administer fluids and any other necessary medications, and might need to shave a small area of their fur or hair in order to place the IV properly.
After your pet’s dental visit, our team will monitor them closely for a short while to ensure they recover well from their anesthesia. Before your beloved companion is ready to go back home, we’ll review our findings, discuss any further treatment recommendations, and go over all the important things you should know to make sure your pet continues to recover well. Most animals are back to normal within a day or two after anesthesia and dental procedures, but we encourage all pet parents to watch for signs of unlikely but possible complications, such as bleeding, infection and persistent lethargy.
Concerned About Your Pet’s Dental Health?
When it comes to your pet, healthier teeth mean a healthier life! Call 808-329-8999 to connect with a veterinarian in Kailua-Kona, HI and schedule a pet dental exam for your cat or dog today.