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Dental Disease

Why is this so important to my pet?

Dental disease is very common in our pets – dogs, cats, and rabbits in particular. (see rabbit section)  At Abercorn Vets we examine pets mouths as part of every routine examination, and all too often we find serious dental disease as an incidental finding. Much of this disease will be associated with significant pain to the individual.

“But my pet doesn’t seem sore?”

Our dogs and cats don’t show pain in the same way that we do. Thus dogs and cats in dental pain, may be a bit depressed, or irritable, rub or paw at their mouths, cease to groom themeselves, avoid chewing hard foods, or selectively eat on one side of their mouths. Cats are notoriously good at hiding pain. The saying “if it is sore for us then it is sore for them” is possibly never more true than when talking about our pets mouths.

How do I find out if my pet has a dental problem?

An integral part of routine vaccination and booster appointments is a full health check which includes examination of your pet’s mouth and teeth. Of course if you are a member of our Pet Health Club then your pet will have a further 6 monthly full clinical examination, allowing the vet to keep an even closer eye on your pet’s oral health.

You can also take advantage of our free nurse clinics. Our qualified nurses are all experienced at assessing pets mouths for the presence of dental disease. Please feel free to make an appointment.

What sort of problems can my pet get?

We see a wide variety of dental disease at Abercorn Vets. Below is a list of some of the more common problems encountered:

Plaque and Calculus – “Plaque” is a bacterial rich film which is tightly adherent to the teeth. Plaque can be removed by brushing. With time this film becomes “mineralised” and the resulting hard discoloured material is known as “Calculus”. Calculus can’t be removed by brushing. It can only be removed by scaling with a dental scaler.

Gingivitis – this is inflammation of the gums, caused by infection or irritation. The source of the infection is typically the plaque discussed above. The gum margins in gingivitis may be red, swollen, and bleed easily. The infection can if left track down the narrow space around the tooth root. This space is the “periodontal space”, and contains the “periodontal ligament” that keeps the tooth in its socket. Inflammation of this leads to..

Periodontal disease – The further the infection is allowed to track, the more damage is done to the periodontal ligament. Deep pockets of infection form under the gum line and the tooth root attachment is weakened until eventually the tooth itself becomes loose.

Tooth root abscesses – these can form as progression of periodontal disease, but also as a result of infections tracking down the inside of the tooth – for instance if the crown of the tooth has been damaged.

Chipped and cracked or worn teeth – such injuries are sadly not infrequent, with the most common culprits being stones, bones, sand covered tennis balls, and frisbees.



At Abercorn vets we have well equipped facilities at the surgery to undertake many dental procedures. Alongside nurse clinics to advise on pet dental care, we offer a variety of dental procedures including:

  • Digital dental xray
  • Prophylactic care
  • Dental extractions
  • Tooth cleaning
  • Removing retained baby teeth


Abercorn Dental Care

How to clean your pet’s teeth

  • In between check ups, you can help take care of your pet’s teeth by brushing regularly.
  • Apply the pet toothpaste to the soft-bristled pet toothbrush and then push it down into the bristles.
  • Choose a time when your pet is settled.
  • Sit him down quietly, either on the floor or a table/counter surface for a small dog or cat.
  • Without restraint, allow him to lick the toothpaste first.
  • Place one hand across the bridge of the nose (muzzle) with a finger or thumb under the chin to keep the mouth closed.
  • Gently lift the top lip and insert the toothbrush inside the cheek.
  • The most important place to brush is at the gum line.
  • Move the brush in gentle circular motions with emphasis of the stroke away from the gum line. DO NOT scrub the teeth.

The goal is to brush the outside surfaces of all the teeth in a systematic way. If, initially, your pet does not co- operate for long enough; start each session by brushing at a different position in his mouth.
The back (molar) teeth should be cleaned first, especially the upper ones; next the canine teeth and finally, once your pet is happy to accept this, the front teeth.

Brushing the inner surfaces of the teeth can prove to be difficult. If you are unable to do this, don’t despair. Providing the rest of the teeth are reasonably clean, the tongue will do quite a good job of this.
Remember, there is no point wrestling with your pet. Try the make the experience as enjoyable as possible. Reward him with a small treat and lavish praise if he behaves well.