MPH Blog

Posts for tag: Teeth

By Natalie Kushner
September 04, 2014
Category: Dentistry
Tags: Dental   Teeth   pet dental   dental cleanings   tooth care  


We are all guilty of it.  We have all committed Acts of Apathy.  We drive across the parking lot to re-park our cars in front of an adjacent store instead of walking.  We wait until the day before tax returns are due to start digging for our W2s.  Some of us even skip out on post-lunch flossing.  Worst of all, we all procrastinate on brushing our pets’ teeth.


Now, hold your immediate eye-rolls.  So many excuses immediately pop into our heads when veterinarians suggest a dental cleaning.  The cost!  The anesthesia!  The risk!  (Again,) the cost!  Most of our hesitation comes from myths and misinformation.


Myth #1: My dog is too young to need a dental cleaning.


The first stage of dental disease begins when plaque forms on the tooth, and within days the plaque hardens and produces calculus. Gingivitis begins to infect the gums, and then periodontitis, or bone loss, occurs.  This process happens faster than most people realize.  A study by the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS) claims that dental disease is the number one diagnosis in dogs and cats, where 80-percent of dogs and 70-percent of cats have periodontal disease by age 2.  


Myth #2: Vets try to “sell” owners dental cleanings regardless of the pet’s condition.


Dental disease is broken up into two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis.  In the gingival stage, the disease is reversible by consistent, daily brushing to prevent plaque from hardening.  There is hope for fighting dental disease without anesthesia, but the biggest problem for owners is that they rarely have the time, persistence, or comfort-level to brush their pet’s teeth every day. However, once periodontitis begins the disease is irreversible – the bone will not grow back on its own and leaves the root painfully compromised.


Myth #3: I don’t need to be put under anesthesia to get a teeth cleaning, why should it be any different for my pet?


Yes, we’ve heard this statement before.  Although some practices offer “anesthesia-free” dental cleanings to remove calculus from the tooth, this process does not do a thorough job of removing bacteria from beneath the gum line.  A common analogy is trying clean a 12-foot-high garbage bin with equipment that is only six feet long – the bottom of the bin never is fully cleaned, allowing the waste to eventually eat through the container.  Anesthesia not only sedates and calms the pet (as the idea of dentistry has always been a difficult concept to explain to our furry patients), it allows our doctors easy, fast, and painless access to the gums.  Under sedation, we can place a breathing tube in the throat to prevent damaging bacteria from infecting the respiratory system. 


Myth #4: Anesthesia is too dangerous.


While everyone knows someone with a pet that had a negative reaction to anesthesia, the statistics prove these are rare instances.  A well-known British study of more than 98,000 canine anesthetic cases over a two-year period only reported 147 anesthetic-related deaths, around 0.15-percent.  Most of the deaths occurred in patients with severe pre-existing health conditions.  This is another reason periodic blood work isalways recommended by the doctors at Morena Pet Hospital, as well as blood work before undergoing any anesthetic procedure.  Safety is the number one concern of our doctors, and a complete health examination is always performed before an anesthetic procedure to determine if the benefits outweigh the risks. 


Myth #5: My pet already has health issues, so his/her teeth aren’t a priority.


This is a very common misconception!  What most owners do not understand is that leaving severe dental disease unchecked can lead to major health problems in the future.  A study by researchers at the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine showed a significant link between dogs with gum disease and heart disease.  Letting dental disease slide can cause potentially diseases in the kidney, liver, and other major organs.


Myth #6: My pet’s teeth are still pretty white; I’m not worried about dental disease.


The first sign of dental disease is usually bad breath.  Some pets will choose not to chew on a painful side of their mouth, or lose interest in eating altogether.  Also, any attempt at brushing a mouth affected by gingivitis can cause redness, irritation, or bleeding at the gum line.  If you notice any of these symptoms, a veterinarian should examine the teeth and gums right away. 


Myth #7: Dental cleanings are too expensive.


Morena Pet Hospital is offering a dental special in September!  While it is impossible to get an exact figure of any procedure, scheduling a doctor’s exam ahead of time can give you an opportunity to ask specific questions about your pet’s needs and have an accurate, personalized estimate of the procedure.  Only a veterinarian can help you decide what is best for your pet’s condition.  In addition to the dental special, we offer helpful payment options, such as Care Credit, to help finance your pet’s healthcare.  Give us a call today to schedule an appointment – your pet’s healthy, pain-free, fresh-smelling mouth will thank you!




Works Cited

American Veterinary Dental Society. (n.d.). Periodontal Disease in Your Pet. Retrieved Aug 2, 2014, from AVDS Online:

Bellows, D. J. (2007, Apr 12). FAQ: Periodontal Disease. Retrieved 2 Aug, 2014, from Veterinary Partner: Veterinary Information Network:

Bellows, D. J. (2007, Apr 26). FAQ: Toothbrushing and Dental Prophylaxis in Cats and Dogs. Retrieved Aug 2, 2014, from Veterinary Partner: Veterinary Information Network:

D. C. Brodbelt, L. E. (2008, Oct 1). Results of the confidential enquiry into perioperative small animal fatalities regarding risk factors for anesthetic-related death in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 1096-1104.

Dr. Phil Zeltzman, D. D. (2013, Jul 9). How Safe is Anesthesia For Your Pet? Retrieved Aug 1, 2014, from Pet Health Network:

Sen, S. (2009, Apr 9). Purdue professor links gum and heart diseases in dogs. Retrieved Aug 1, 2014, from Purdue University News Service:


By R. deLeon-Mims of Morena Pet Hospital
October 03, 2013
Category: Dentistry

Have you looked inside your pet’s mouth lately?  It seems like an odd thing to do, but it’s a huge step towards proper pet healthcare.

Studies show that more than 85% of pets develop periodontal disease by the age of 3! Here at Morena Pet Hospital we know the importance of regular dental exams, where we assess the overall health of the teeth and gums of your furry friend.  Problems such as plaque, gingivitis, broken or missing teeth, and masses in the mouth are all tell-tale signs of periodontal disease.  Untreated dental issues may even cause further health complications, as the bacteria of the mouth is carried through the bloodstream which may lead to infection in the heart, liver, or kidneys.

But there is something that we can all do as pet owners.  Having a dental prevention plan in place will help to prevent periodontal disease in our family pets.

-Schedule regular health and dental exams once or twice a year with your veterinarian

-Start a dental routine consisting of teeth brushing, specifically formulated dental treats and toys, and/or special dental sprays or additives to help keep periodontal disease away (See How to Brush your Pet's Teeth for a step-by-step guide to brushing your pet’s teeth at home)

-Check your pet’s teeth at home for discoloration, plaque and calculus build up, or any pain and/or tenderness when you touch your pet’s mouth and face

-Regularly scheduled anesthetic dental cleanings at your veterinarian may also be necessary to keep your pet’s dental care up to par

Dentals for Dogs and Cats FAQs

1.  Does my pet need to be anesthetized to perform a dental cleaning?

To perform a proper dental prophylaxis a pet must be anesthetized.  This allows for immobilization to clean below the gum line using an ultrasonic scaler and polisher, a more thorough exam of the pet’s mouth, gums, teeth and tongue, pain control, and protection of the airway and lungs of accidental aspiration of bacteria and dental debris. 

 2.  My pet does not like his teeth being brushed, what can I do?

See our link *here* for a guide on how to introduce brushing to our pets.

3.  How often should my pet get her teeth cleaned by a veterinarian?

There is no blanket answer for this question.  It depends on the rate in which your pet’s accumulates plaque and tartar on her teeth.  Many factors determine this, such as breed type, age, and whether or not you provide dental care at home (tooth brushing, dental treats, etc) The best way to see if your pet needs a cleaning is to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to evaluate her dental health.

4.  Is the anesthesia safe that you use for dentals?

We take every precaution to provide safe anesthetic procedures for all our patients.  A pre-operative blood panel is required for all pets to qualify them for an anesthetic procedure. Also, other testing such as pre-operative EKGs or xrays may be necessary to ensure the pet’s health and safety.  During the dental, the pet is carefully monitored by a veterinary technician/assistant and with similar monitoring devices as those used in human hospitals.

Dental care is a priority here at Morena Pet Hospital.  If you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s dental health please don’t hesitate to call us.  We are currently having our Fall Dental Special from now until the end of November where all associated medical services are 20% off.  Have your pet’s dental health evaluated today!

Rosa deLeon-Mims


Brooks, Wendy, DVM. Dental Home Care. The Pet Health Library, 2012

Peak, Michael, DVM. Caring for your pet’s teeth and gums. Veterinary Medicine, 2003