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Tel: (856) 242-9253, Fax: (856) 394-2585 2061 Briggs Rd. Suite 403, Mt Laurel, NJ 08054

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When Should My Pet See A Veterinary Dentist?


Although many Americans dislike visiting the dentist and make excuses to put off scheduling an exam and cleaning, deep down they understand why it’s important to have a doctor regularly check their teeth and perform preventative dental care. But what they don’t realize is that just like humans, dogs and cats should have regular checkups with a veterinary dentist as well. And for extreme cases including dental disease and oral surgery your primary care veterinarian might refer you to a board-certified specialist like at Veterinary Dentistry Specialists. 

Veterinary Dentists: Helping Keep Your Pet Healthy By Fighting Dental Disease

Many pet owners just assume that stinky breath goes with having a pet - but it doesn’t have to. Although periodontal disease is the most common medical condition found in dogs and cats, it can be prevented.

There are four stages of periodontal disease in pets:

Stage 4 periodontal disease, image from AVDC.org

Stage 1

In the first stage, a slight buildup of tartar may be evident on the teeth. Additionally, the gums may appear to be red and slightly swollen. If x-rays are taken, no bone loss will be evident. A dental cleaning can be performed to ensure that the dental disease does not progress to later stages.

Stage 2

In addition to tartar and swollen gums, x-rays may reveal up to 25% bone loss. At this time, a dental cleaning should take place in order to prevent further deterioration of the bone. 

Stage 3

At this point significant bone loss has taken place. Although this may not be evident by simply looking in the pet’s mouth and is typically only be discovered by taking dental x-rays.

When a pet is found to have stage three dental disease, a pet parent typically must choose between extraction and advanced procedures performed by a board-certified veterinary denistry specialist to save the affected tooth. Keep in mind that just like with humans, once a pet loses a tooth it will not grow back.

Stage 4

When this stage is reached, the bone loss is so severe that nothing can be done to save a tooth and the only option is extraction.

Dental disease can be quite painful for a pet, pain which could easily be avoided with regularexams with your primary care veterinarian and routine home dental care.

A VDS patient, Frankenstein (Frankie) the Greyhound had periodontal disease and as a result, needed to have several teeth extracted.

Veterinary Dentists Don’t Just Treat Dental Disease

There are many conditions other than dental disease which can impact a pet’s health. In the past, our dental specialists have helped patients impacted by:

  • Jaw Fracture
  • Jaw Malocclusion
  • Salivary Gland Issues
  • Cleft Palate Defects

An examination of the entire mouth may also reveal dangerous oral tumors such as:

  • Fibrosarcoma
  • Melanoma
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma

If left unchecked, oral tumors, which are quite common and account for 12% of all cancers in cats and 6% of all cancers in dogs, can be life-threatening. However, if caught early enough, these cancers may be treatable, saving your pet’s life.

Additionally, regular visits to your veterinary dentist may also help prevent other life-threatening diseases.

VDS patient, Boots with veterinary technician (nurse) Tara. Boots had severe periodontal disease and tooth resorption (loss of tooth structure). We completed an oral exam, full mouth dental x-rays, and extracted four teeth.

Study Links Dental Disease To Heart Disease In Dogs

Although veterinary dentists focus on taking care of the mouth, the work that they do may also be helping to stave off other serious medical conditions. Recently, Larry Glickman, a professor of epidemiology at Purdue University published a study in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association which showed that dogs with untreated periodontal disease have an increased risk of developing heart disease.

This study is similar to one published in human medical journals performed by researchers at Harvard, the results of which suggest that bacteria from the mouth is moved to the heart through the bloodstream. How do bacteria enter the bloodstream? Through bleeding gums - caused by dental disease.

How Often Should My Pet See A Veterinary Dentist?

It’s never too early to see a veterinary dentist! At Veterinary Dental Specialists, we recommend that you make an appointment to see one of our experienced board-certified vetinary dentistry specialists. During a visit, we will examine your pet and then discuss preventative care and/or immediate treatment options with you. If your primary care veterinarian has diagnosed your dog or cat with dental disease, you can ask for a referral to our practice. Call 856.242.9253 to schedule an appointment today.

Why Choose VDS?

VDS is the only facility of its kind in the entire country. We are the only practice entirely dedicated to dentistry and oral surgery for pets and where a full-time board-certified veterinary dentist and full-time board-certified veterinary anesthesiologist are always on staff to ensure the best care and outcomes. For this reason there is no need to fear anesthesia. This ensures the safest, most comfortable experience for your pet.

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The VDS Experience

Conveniently located in Mt. Laurel, NJ, you can count on VDS for Concierge-Care—an exceptional level of service and genuine caring for you and your pet that sets a new standard in delivering veterinary dental care.

Because superior service is our standard of care, and you and your pet deserve it.

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We look forward to meeting you and your pet. We are conveniently located at:

2061 Briggs Rd. Suite 403, Mt Laurel, NJ 08054

Tel: (856) 242-9253

Fax: (856) 394-2585

Email: info@vdsvets.com

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