My cat eats funny! What could be wrong?

A common issue we see in cats is something called tooth resorption or neck lesions.  More than 50% of all cats over three years of age will have at least one tooth affected by resorption yet it affects dogs much less frequently.

Tooth resorption is the slow destruction of a tooth caused by cells called odontoclasts.  Tooth resorptions are usually found on the outside of the tooth at the gum line. If you look carefully at your cats teeth you may see signs of tooth resorption. Basically it is the tooth decaying right at the gumline. The tooth itself may look healthy but right below the gum, if you see any pink it may be a neck lesion. If you touch this area with the tip of your nail you may notice your cat actually flinch. Now think about every time it goes to chew kibble, it hurts!!

Sometimes a resorption will look as though gum tissue is growing over or into the tooth. It can also appear like there is a hole in the tooth.  

Feline tooth resorption is an extremely painful condition. However, many cats show no obvious signs of pain until a lesion is actually touched.  We have had cats under general anesthesia who will flinch when the affected area is touched although they are completely asleep, the nerves are still active.  This is a clear demonstration of how painful this condition is.

Sometimes an affected cat will drool, have bleeding from the mouth or pinkish saliva at times, or even difficulty chewing. Occasionally there can also be vomiting of unchewed food, behaviour changes and bad breath.

From time to time an observant pet owner or a veterinarian will be able to diagnose a tooth resorption in a kitty without sedation.  However, it can be difficult to diagnose a tooth resorption especially if there is tartar and plaque covering the teeth.  This is why regular dental cleanings with probing of the teeth is so important.  Extraction of a tooth undergoing resorption is the only treatment.  Once the affected tooth is removed the cat feels much better.

The exact cause of feline tooth resorption is still a mystery.   And once a tooth resorption has been identified in your cat’s mouth, unfortunately, it’s very common for additional teeth to suffer the same fate.  That’s why our veterinarians at Snelgrove Vet Services in Brampton think it’s extremely important to twice yearly dental checkups to screen for additional lesions. 

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Abnormal bites

Is the abnormality functional or not? 

If a tooth is out of place but it’s not interfering with other teeth, penetrating the gum line or affecting how your dog eats, a functional bite exists. Repairing a functional bite for cosmetic purposes is not necessary and is considered unethical.

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When abnormally positioned teeth interfere with other teeth, penetrate the gum line or affect your dog’s ability to eat, a non-functional bite exists and action needs to be taken to create a functional bite. Four treatment options exist: extraction, providing space, crown reduction and restoration, and tooth movement.

“Repairing a functional bite for cosmetic
purposes is not necessary and is considered unethical.”

 When is extraction preferred?

Extraction of the offending or offended tooth (teeth), performed by the general practitioner, is the treatment of choice and usually results in immediate relief.

Extraction of the canine(s) can be challenging, however. A specialist referral should be considered if the practitioner is not comfortable with the procedure or the surgical consequences.

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“Extraction of the offending or offended
tooth (teeth) is the treatment of choice and
usually results in immediate relief.”

Why not just make space rather than extract?

Removal of the impinged gum line can result in a pain-free functional bite. Unfortunately, the benefit can be short lived when the gum line grows back.

What is crown reduction and restoration?

Decreasing the height of a canine or incisor will often resolve the impingement or penetration of the gum line. This is an advanced dental procedure, preserving the vitality of the tooth through vital pulp or root canal therapy and restoration with light-cured composite. For added protection, a metallic crown can be placed.

What’s involved with tooth movement?

Moving malpositioned teeth to functional positions can be challenging and rewarding. Teeth are either moved surgically or through the use of inclined planes, orthodontic buttons and elastics.

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Orthodontic movement is an advanced dental procedure that should only be performed by someone with an advanced understanding of dental anatomy, physiology, and orthodontic principles. To find a board certified veterinary dentist in your area, log on to http://www.avdc.org.

Jan Bellows, DVM, Dipl. AVDC, ABVP
© Copyright 2013 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.

Help! – How do I brush my dog’s teeth?

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What would happen if you stopped brushing your own teeth?

Your teeth would start to feel slimy. Plaque starts to build immediately on our teeth after brushing. It is usually a pale yellow colour and is a combination of saliva, bacteria and food waste. Within 48 hours of plaque formation it starts to harden and at this point can’t be removed by brushing alone. 

What are the benefits of brushing?

Brushing removes the daily accumulation of plaque from the teeth. Once plaque starts to harden it turns into calculus which requires dental instruments to remove.  If teeth are left untreated it can lead to periodontal disease which causes bad breath, pain, and tooth loss.

How do you Brush your Dog’s Teeth?

Step one is to pick an appropriate pet toothbrush

Pick a toothbrush with soft bristles. A dual end toothbrush helps. The smaller end is easier to manipulate on the incisors and the larger end on the molars. For smaller dogs a small head is all that’s needed. A finger toothbrush (fits over the tip of your finger) works better for some dogs, but be careful, it is easy for them to bite your finger accidentally.

Step two is to select an appropriate toothpaste

The best pet toothpaste contains enzymes that help control plaque. Don’t use human toothpaste. They may contain Xylitol and fluoride that is toxic to pets. Also, human toothpaste is meant to be ‘spit out’ and can be hard on the stomach.  Make sure the pet toothpaste is pushed into the bristles of the toothbrush.

Step three is to get the brush with paste into your dog’s mouth to get all the teeth brushed.

Most dogs accept brushing if they are approached in a gentle manner. If you can start when they are young, it’s quite easy, but even older pets will accept the process. Keep sessions short initially. Only focus on handling the inside of their mouth to begin with or just a few teeth.

Start by allowing your pet to lick the pet toothpaste off a soft toothbrush 3 – 5 times per day, without restraint.  Once the licking is established, try brushing the teeth, as the pet licks the brush. As your pet because more comfortable you can gradually start brushing more thoroughly.  Try to brush your pet’s teeth at the same time every day – this helps to build a routine. Perhaps after/before you brush your own teeth at night to help as a reminder.

Most attention should be given to the outside of the upper teeth. This is where most plaque accumulates. Remember, as with us, a circular brushing motion covers more of the tooth surface than back and forth or up and down.

Taking an active role in your dog’s dental care will help reduce dental disease, bad breath, and potentially life-threatening heart and kidney disease.  Everyone wins!

Dr. Jessica Ioannou of Snelgrove Vet Services in Brampton

Yuk – My dog’s breath smells!!!

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Have you ever walked by your dog and thought “What’s that smell?”.

Has your dog ever been panting beside you and you shooed them away thinking “You stink!”?

Now, a better question. Have you ever looked at your dog’s teeth?

Probably not, right?

Take a peek, especially at the top back molars and the front incisors. If you see anything on them, that’s calculus (tartar). It’s what forms on the teeth from plaque. Plaque is a combination of saliva and bacteria that coats the teeth. As time progresses and plaque accumulates, it starts to harden and becomes calculus. Plaque can be removed from the teeth by brushing and overgrowth can be controlled by preventives, such as Healthy Mouth, CET Chews and foods, such as, T/D.

Here are some other signs that your pet has dental disease  

Not wanting to eat or changes in eating habits, odor from the mouth, loss of energy, and reluctance to play with toys are a few signs of possible dental disease.

What are the ways that I can prevent dental disease?

1. Brushing your pet’s teeth daily is the absolute BEST prevention, but as we all know, it’s not always possible.

2. Feeding a food that’s designed for good oral health, such as,  T/D Hills. We have to feed them anyways!

4. Using a water additive, such as, Healthy Mouth (be sure it is VOHC approved)

3. Giving dental chews daily. Who doesn’t love treats? LOL

Using all of these proven methods in conjunction will help keep your pet’s mouth in tip-top shape.

How do you brush your pet’s teeth?

Start by allowing your pet to lick the pet toothpaste off a soft toothbrush 3 – 5 times per day, without restraint. (It HAS to be pet toothpaste. Human toothpaste contains Xylitol, that is toxic to dogs and is not meant to be ingested. But, as we all know, our pet will swallow it!) Make sure the pet toothpaste is pushed into the bristles of the toothbrush.  Once the licking is established, try brushing the teeth, as the pet licks the brush. Gradually, as familiarity with the brush is established, you can start restraining and more vigorous brushing.  Try to brush your pet’s teeth at the same time every day – this helps to build a routine.  

If you can’t brush your pet’s teeth at home, let us know, we will be happy to give you additional brushing instructions.

What is T/D?

T/D stands for Tooth Diet – this food has a unique kibble that scrubs away plaque in the mouth  AND it reduces bad breath.  T/D food was awarded the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Acceptance for helping reduce both plaque and tartar accumulation.

Most pets do really well on the T/D food, please contact us to discuss this food option further.

Water Additives

There are many water additives on the market but unless they are VOHC approved, there is no guarantee  that they actually help stop the progression of plaque in the mouth.  Healthy Mouth is the only water additive to be awarded this seal of approval thus far. It is proven to reduce plaque by an astonishing 71-76%. In order for a water additive to work, it must be their sole drinking source.

What’s wrong with just giving dental chews?

The dental chews will help keep tartar down but they can also add a lot of unnecessary calories.  It is very important to be mindful of your pets weight when giving dental chews daily.  It is preferable to get dental chews that have the VOHC seal of Acceptance because they will help reduce both plaque and tartar accumulation.

What if my dog’s breath still smells?

It may be time for professional cleaning.  The frequency of professional cleaning will vary with your pet’s individual needs.  Most pets require 2-3 professional cleanings in their lifetime.  Please contact us at Snelgrove Veterinary Services in Brampton to find out if it is time to schedule a professional cleaning.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Jessica Ioannou

Baby teeth! Ouch, they’re sharp.

Puppies have amazingly sharp and pointy teeth, but did you know, they aren’t born with them?

Puppies start getting in their baby (deciduous) teeth between 4-6 weeks of age and surprisingly, they only last for a few months. By 3 months of age, they typically start losing their front baby teeth to make room for their adult ones. By 6 months of age, most dogs, have lost all of their baby teeth and these have been replaced by their adult teeth.

Puppies have 28 teeth and adult dogs typically have 42 teeth. The front small teeth (6 on the top and bottom) are called incisors. Beside these teeth, top and bottom, are the canine teeth. These teeth are long and pointy. Following these are the pre-molars and molars. Puppies are not born with molars, the molars are only present in the adult teeth.

Due to the short period of time that a puppy has its baby teeth, it is quite uncomfortable losing this many teeth this quickly. This is why many puppies start chewing items in the home and it tends to get worse before it gets better. Many times, this is due to them trying to find something soothing for their teeth and gums. Always provide young puppies with many appropriate items to chew on. Toys and dental chews are a great option for this. Sometimes it even helps to put these in the fridge, so that they have a cooling effect. There are lots of different items available on our webstore.

As puppies lose their baby teeth, they may also have an  unpleasant odour in their mouth. This is normal. The roots resorb under the gum line and food and bacteria can get stuck between the tooth and gum line. If by the time your pet is spayed or neutered, there are still baby teeth present, many veterinarians will recommend these teeth to be extracted. Retained baby teeth can cause the adult teeth to grow in abnormally and can cause future problems.

It is also very important to start handling inside of a puppy’s mouth at a very young age. We don’t usually recommend to start brushing their teeth until the adult teeth are in, but it is important for them to get comfortable with your hands in their mouth. You can gently wipe along their teeth with a warm washcloth daily. Do not get too vigorous inside their mouth. The loose baby teeth will be sensitive and this may cause your dog to permanently dislike anyone handling inside their mouth.

For more tips on how to keep your pets choppers healthy, keep reviewing our blog where we will be posting many dental facts during Dental Awareness Month.

Dental Awareness

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February is Dental awareness month. As some pet owners know there are many preventive measures that can help your pet have a healthy mouth. Periodontal disease is the most common and most preventable disease your pet may encounter.

Many pet food companies offer a dental formula as a maintenance diet. Dental diets can be found at your vet clinic. In the Veterinary field we recommend these veterinary diets due to the extensive research, studies and food trials. This is all performed to make sure that these dental diets are formulated appropriately for your pet and more important, that they are not just “false” claims.

Other forms of preventives are once a day chews from various vet pharmaceutical companies, as well as, water additives. These chews help with the prevention of plaque which in-turn minimize the formation of tartar. The water additives must be used as your pets primary drinking source for optimal benefit.

The BEST way to prevent periodontal disease, just like humans, is daily brushing, ideally after all meals. Getting into your pets mouth once a day to brush will help your pets pearly whites get whiter and more importantly, be healthier. Cats and dogs don’t know well enough not to swallow toothpaste, which can be hard on their stomach, a pet toothpaste should be the ONLY toothpaste used. Toothpastes are available in a variety of flavours including vanilla-mint for the hypoallergenic pet.

Here at Snelgrove Veterinary Services, we offer all of these products and would love to discuss them with you. We are also offering 5% off all dental products this month. As well, for the month of February, you can schedule an appointment with one of our helpful Technicians that would be more than happy to speak with you about your pet’s dental health.

Happy Brushing,

Pattie

Dental Awareness Month

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Welcome to Dental Awareness Month!! All month we will be providing you with tips and tricks to keeping your pet’s teeth and breath fresh. Also, this month, all dental products are 5% off. So it’s a great time to stock up on toothpaste and chews and anything else you may need. We will also be offering FREE dental exams with our technicians. They can help you choose what products are right for your pet, how to brush correctly even on a difficult pet, and let you know what the general health of your pet’s mouth is. Just call us, Snelgrove Veterinary Services at 905-846-3316 to schedule your appointment.