February is Pet Dental Health Month!

February is Pet Dental Health Month, and that means it’s time to talk teeth!


According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, by three years of age 70-80% of all dogs and cats develop some kind of oral disease. And, we’re not just talking about bad breath here. Poor oral health can affect your pet’s overall health.  Bacteria in the mouth can not only cause abscessed tooth roots, but can also get into the bloodstream and cause heart, liver and kidney disease. So, it really is in your pet’s best interest to take good care of their teeth.

How is oral health assessed in animals?

The first step in assessing your pet’s oral health is an oral exam by your veterinarian.  They look at the teeth and gums, the best that your pet allows, and then rate the level of periodontal disease, from Stage 1 to Stage 4.  See image below for staging descriptions. We will usually recommend a full dental cleaning starting at Stage 2.


The second step in assessing your pet’s oral health occurs during the dental cleaning. Our veterinary technicians and veterinarians fully inspect the condition of the teeth and gums, and assess tooth health under the gum line through the full set of dental xrays.

How you can help keep your pet’s teeth healthy

Plaque and tartar build up can be prevented with regular, at-home dental care, which is best started when your pet is young and their teeth are in good shape.  Brushing daily with a soft bristle brush and an enzymatic toothpaste is our best recommendation. Do not use human toothpaste on pets, as the fluoride is toxic for them. We do have helpful videos on brushing teeth for both dogs and cats.

If your pet will not tolerate brushing, we also have flavored enzymatic gels, water additives, dental diets, for cats, dental treats and for dogs, dental chews.  So, there are many ways to help keep your pet’s teeth in tip-top shape.  If your pet already has reached stage 2, we would recommend a full dental cleaning, to get the best start back to good oral health.

What happens when your pet gets a full dental cleaning

When your pet comes in for a dental cleaning, it is an anesthetic procedure.   To make sure your pet safely undergoes anesthesia, we do pre-anesthetic blood tests and place an IV catheter to help support them with IV fluids while they are anesthetized.  Their vital signs are also monitored closely during the entire procedure.

During their dental, they receive a complete oral exam, full set of dental xrays, and their teeth are ultrasonically scaled and polished.  If your pet is at Stage 2, this is likely all that will happen, however for stages above 2, extractions most likely will be necessary.  Once their dental is complete, your pet is then recovered from anesthesia by one of our veterinary technicians, and will go home a few hours later. Pet’s with extractions will have a local anesthetic block during the procedure, for their comfort upon awakening. Those pets with extractions will also be sent home with antibiotics and pain medication.

Swartz Creek Veterinary Hospital’s Pet Dental Health Month Special!!

At Swartz Creek Veterinary Hospital, we care about your pet’s health, and that includes their dental health!  So, we’d like to help celebrate Pet Dental Health Month by giving you the gift of savings when you bring your pet in for a dental. Schedule your pet’s dental anytime between Feb. 1st and Feb. 28th and you will receive the dental xrays for FREE ($45 savings)! There are a limited number of appointments available for dentals, so don’t delay, call today to schedule your pet’s dental cleaning, and get them on their way to better health!



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