Veterinary Dentistry Services in Northern Baltimore County

Dental health is a critical component of wellness care and can extend your pet’s life. Most dental disease occurs below the gum line which is why we do more than simply brush your pet’s teeth. MCAH dental services include complete dental x-rays and periodontal care and treatment that go beyond simply cleaning the tooth surfaces.

Just as with humans, dental health is a key component of overall health and well-being. Bad breath isn’t just a nuisance, it can be a sign of an unhealthy mouth, infection, and dental disease. Bad breath is caused by bacteria which can lead to tartar and plaque buildup on teeth which can in turn lead to toxins getting into your pet’s bloodstream.

The internal organs which filter the blood, such as the liver, heart, and kidneys can actually become diseased because of their exposure to these toxins. If your pet’s internal organs are compromised, that can negatively impact your pet’s health and shorten his or her life.

Gum disease at its earliest stage is often silent, but it can quickly turn into periodontal disease, gum recession, bone loss and infection. Did you know that over 80% of pets over the age of 3 years old have periodontal disease?

Signs of severe gum disease are:

  • Bad Breath
  • Head and mouth shyness
  • Swelling of mouth or face
  • Bleeding gums
  • Excessive salivation
  • Loose or broken teeth
  • Dropping food or chewing on one side of the mouth

As part of our annual wellness exams, our veterinarians will examine your pet’s teeth to check dental health. If dental disease is suspected, we can work together to determine the best course of action to manage your pet’s dental health. We may recommend a professional dental cleaning which is the only way to truly remove built-up tartar and plaque on the teeth and below the gum line.

Mount Carmel Animal Hospital has state-of the art dental equipment including digital x-rays which enables us to accurately diagnose and treat your pet’s dental health. Not all veterinary facilities have and use dental x-rays when performing dental cleanings. We believe that it is an essential tool in proper dental care. Most dental disease occurs below the gum line where it cannot be seen. Using x-rays enables us to be proactive in our approach to dental health.

A professional dental cleaning usually takes 1-2 hours to complete, and is performed under anesthesia. We use an endotracheal tube and a closed breathing system to avoid aspiration of bacteria. As with all surgical procedures, pre-anesthetic bloodwork is drawn to confirm that your pet is healthy enough for anesthesia and surgery.

During the procedure we will:

  • Evaluate all teeth and gums
  • Perform dental x-rays, if required, to identify broken or diseased teeth
  • Clean and polish the surface of the teeth, including below the gum lines
  • Extract any diseased or broken teeth that cannot be repaired
  • Possibly suture the gum after some tooth extractions

About Anesthesia – From the American Veterinary Medical Association:

When you go to the dentist, you know that what’s being done is meant to help you and keep your mouth healthy. Your dentist uses techniques to minimize pain and discomfort and can ask you how you are feeling, so you accept the procedures and do your best to keep still. Your pet does not understand the benefit of dental procedures, and he or she reacts by moving, trying to escape, or even biting.

Anesthesia makes it possible to perform the dental procedures with less stress and pain for your pet. In addition, anesthesia allows for a better cleaning because your pet is not moving around and risking injury from the dental equipment. If radiographs (x-rays) are needed, your pet needs to be very still in order to get good images, and this is unlikely without heavy sedation or anesthesia.

Although anesthesia will always have risks, it’s safer now than ever and continues to improve so that the risks are very low and are far outweighed by the benefits. Most pets can go home the same day of the procedure, although they might seem a little groggy for the rest of the day.

The American Veterinary Dental College does not recommend dental cleanings without anesthesia because they do not allow cleaning or inspection below the gum line, where most dental disease occurs, and can result in injury to the pet or the person performing the procedure.

Home Dental Care for Pets

The single most effective things you can do at home is to regularly brush your pet’s teeth. Easier said than done, right? Patience and practice is the key. Starting this healthy habit with puppies and kittens will make it much easier later in life. A small, soft bristled brush such as a children’s tooth brush is the way to go. Tooth paste made specifically for pets is essential. Never use human toothpaste on pets. 

Recommendations for Pet-Friendly Products

Mount Carmel Animal Hospital offers a line of products for at home dental care including tooth brushes and tooth paste, dental chews and water additives, as well as specially formulated diets to promote dental health. There are many products on the market which claim to “clean” your pet’s teeth and improve dental health. Please talk to one of our veterinarians for product recommendations.

Just like humans, the best prevention is to start with regular brushing and cleaning. We can show you how to perform home care with dog and cat toothpaste, chewing aids, and rinses to keep your pet’s breath smelling fresh.