Dental Disease Eradication Program

Our mission at Tidmore Veterinary Hospital is to relieve pain and suffering and promote a long, healthy, pain-free life for our patients. Did you know that animals are genetically hard wired to conceal signs of pain? It is a survival instinct, since in the wild, animals that show signs of distress usually end up being someone else’s lunch.

Does your pet have "doggy / kitty breath"?
This is not normal and is usually due to bacteria. Should you be concerned? Please see below for more information!

Dental disease is the most common cause of unrecognized pain and infection we see in our patients. The majority of pets over 1 year of age have some level of dental disease, which only worsens with age. Fortunately, for your pet, we can relieve this pain and help you to keep it from coming back. Our veterinarians and professional staff have undergone extensive training in veterinary dental medicine and we have top of the line equipment and facilities to treat and prevent dental disease.

We manage several different types of dental disease here at TVH:

  • Periodontal Disease
  • Broken Teeth
  • Retained deciduous \“baby\” teeth
  • Stomatitis
  • Cancer
  • Feline Resorptive lesions or FORL


  • We are here to help your pet. To talk with one of our highly trained staff members, call us at 205-339-5555

    If you're interested in setting up a dental appointment, please click HERE.

    Which of these pictures below resembles your pet's mouth? Concerned? Please see below for more details



    Peridontal Disease

    Stage 0
    : Does your pet's mouth look like this? Great! This is the natural state of the oral cavity in pets. Most pets are born with a healthy mouth. Regular care, including brushing, will keep pets’ oral cavity healthy. At this stage of oral health there is no plaque or tarter build-up on the teeth, no gum disease and no gum recession. This stage contributes to pets being healthy and living a long life. We want all our patients to be at this oral health stage.

    Stage 0

    Stage 1
    :Gingivitis. At this stage, plaque and bacteria accumulate on the teeth and in the space between the gums and the teeth. There they cause inflammation and infection. Gum disease causes bleeding and discomfort when eating. It typically starts in pets around a year old and can be prevented by regular brushing. If not treated, gum disease eventually develops into periodontal disease. Pain is relatively mild at this stage. Treatment at this stage can be accomplished by a professional cleaning in the clinic followed by home care.

    Does your pet's mouth look like this?

    Call today to see if your pet needs a

    free
    dental examination! (205) 339-5555. You may also Schedule Online.

    Stage 1

    Stage 2
    : Mild periodontal disease. At this stage bacteria are becoming more toxic and begin destroying the bone supporting the teeth. As this stage tends to be chronic, the disease continues to develop unless treated professionally by your veterinarian. In addition to destroying the bone, bacteria can get into the blood stream and spread to distant organs. There are increased levels of pain.

    Does your pet's mouth look like this?

    Call today to see if your pet needs a

    free
    dental examination! (205) 339-5555. You may also Schedule Online.

    Stage 2

    Stage 3
    : Moderate periodontal disease. This is an inevitable progression of stage 2, unless treated. At this stage there is significant bone damage around the teeth and teeth are becoming loose. Smaller teeth and teeth of smaller dogs and in cats are beginning to fall out. At this stage the oral cavity constantly sheds toxic bacteria into the blood stream. Pain is increased and some pets will start showing signs of pain.

    Does your pet's mouth look like this?

    Call today to see if your pet needs a

    free
    dental examination! (205) 339-5555. You may also Schedule Online.

    Stage 3

    Stage 4
    : Advanced periodontal disease. At this stage the damage to the bone around the teeth is so severe that even large teeth are falling off. This is quite painful and many pets show obvious signs of discomfort: difficulty chewing and behavior changes, such as acting “old”, grumpy and being head shy. This is the result of their pain and the body having to fight severe and chronic infections, which weaken it and may cause chronic infection in the jaw bone, kidneys, lungs, heart and liver.

    Does your pet's mouth look like this?

    Call today to see if your pet needs a

    free
    dental examination! (205) 339-5555. You may also Schedule Online.

    Stage 4

    Fact# 1
    : Most patients with dental disease we see are at stages 3 and 4!

    Fact# 2
    : Dental disease can be treated and prevented by proper oral care and regular teeth brushing.

    Treatment of periodontal disease involves a thorough evaluation under general anesthesia. Each tooth is evaluated manually and by x-rays. Teeth that are not too badly damaged are cleaned and polished. Teeth that cannot be saved are extracted. The goal after periodontal therapy is to restore the mouth to stage 0 and then to keep it there by regular home care.



    Broken Teeth

    Broken Tooth

    Many times pets will break their teeth, either from trauma or chewing on something hard. Objects known to break teeth are bones, rocks, oyster shells, cow hooves, hard plastic toys, wood, ice cubes and metal cage doors. Pets can have other problems if they swallow these items including obstruction, perforated intestines and constipation. It is best to prevent tooth damage by not allowing pets to chew these items.

    Broken teeth can be serious, and are painful, especially if the nerve is exposed. A broken tooth is more likely to abscess, and this infection can lead to serious and even fatal internal organ infection, particularly heart valves.

    Broken teeth should be evaluated by dental x- rays. If it is just a minor chip with no nerve exposure or internal root damage then it can be left alone and monitored. More serious injuries will require either extraction or referral to a veterinary dentist for root canal.



    Retained Deciduous (Baby Teeth)

    Baby Tooth

    Dogs and cats have both baby and permanent teeth. Normally the baby teeth fall out and are replaced by permanent teeth. Many times these baby teeth will not fall out. This will cause the adult teeth to develop abnormally and be out of place, a condition called malocclusion. This can lead to tooth and gum damage resulting in pain. These teeth should be extracted as soon as they are detected to prevent irreversible damage. Fortunately this is usually detected about the same time pets are spayed or neutered and the procedure is done at that time.











    Stomatitis

    Stomatitis

    Stomatitis refers to inflammation of the mouth. It is more common in cats but has been seen in dogs. It can be an extremely painful condition. It is diagnosed with an exam and sometimes biopsies. Many times the cause is periodontal disease and it is treated with teeth cleaning, extractions, medications and/or laser treatment. We can do that here in our clinic.





    Feline Oral Resorptive Lesions (FORL)

    FORL

    FORL refers to a very common condition in cats in which the cat’s immune system attacks the teeth; destroying both the roots and the crowns, which is a very painful condition. It is diagnosed with an exam and x-rays. The exact cause is unknown at this time but nutrition, viruses and genetics may play a role. These teeth cannot be repaired, the only treatment is extraction.







    Oral Cancer

    Oral Cancer

    Oral cancer is commonly found in our pets and early detection and treatment are essential to get the best outcomes. Regular oral exams are important and should be done yearly on younger pets, twice yearly on patients 7 years and older, and anytime a pet comes in for any problem as part of the complete physical exam. Anytime you or the doctor notices any lumps, bumps or sores in the mouth they should be biopsied and removed as soon as possible.







    Common Client Concerns

    Is this really necessary?
    A good question that everyone should ask. Treating dental disease improves both quality and quantity of life. Untreated dental disease of any magnitude causes pain to some degree. Many clients have told us that their pet started acting like a puppy or kitten again after we cured them of their dental pain. We know you don’t want your pet to suffer needlessly. Dental disease can lead to damage of vital organs such as the heart, kidneys, liver and lungs resulting in a shorter lifespan.

    Is it safe?
    Another good question, and we are as concerned about your pet’s safety as you are. A proper dental evaluation and cleaning cannot be performed without general anesthesia. So called “anesthesia-free” dental cleanings are cosmetic only and cannot treat the real problems. We take many steps to ensure your pet’s safety: Every pet undergoing general anesthesia at our clinic will receive a physical exam the day of the procedure. They will be given a mild sedative and pain medication prior to the procedure to relieve their stress and lower the amount of general anesthetic they need. Most pets will have preoperative blood testing and other diagnostic procedures to be sure they are healthy. All patients will have IV fluids during the procedure. All patients will continuously have their vital signs monitored by a highly trained nurse. All patients will have a breathing tube and receive oxygen during the procedure. We also use local anesthetics to lower the amount of general anesthesia needed and to make your pet more comfortable and have a speedier recovery.

    Why is it so expensive?
    I just cannot afford that. This is a very legitimate concern. We recognize that most all of our clients have to live within a budget and that includes pet care expenses. Dental care can save you money in the long run by preventing chronic problems in the vital organs. Early intervention can restore a patient to good oral health and preventative home care can keep it there. People have their teeth cleaned twice a year every year. In veterinary medicine our goal is to do it just one time. We have several payment plans to help you budget for such procedures.

    How will my pet eat if you pull teeth?
    Dogs and cats teeth are designed differently from ours. The front teeth (canines and incisors) are designed to capture and kill prey. The back teeth (molars) are designed to shear food into small enough pieces for them to gulp down. Dogs and cats do not grind their food into a paste as humans do. A dog or cat will be able to eat canned or dry pet food no matter how many teeth we have to extract. We have had many pets able to eat small dry kibble after having all of their teeth extracted.



    Dental Referrals

    While we offer many treatment options for dental care, there are some procedures that are only done by board certified veterinary dental specialists. These include procedures such as root canals, endodontic care and crowns. We will discuss these treatment options with you and we can refer you to a veterinary dental specialist if you so desire.



    Guidelines for Home Dental Care

    Dental homecare is preventative maintenance. It cannot correct a problem once one has developed. Moreover, if there is a painful condition in the mouth, brushing will be very unpleasant for the animal and we do not want that. Therefore, a homecare program should only be started after a very thorough oral evaluation to ensure that there are no problems that need treatment prior to starting brushing.

    The goal with a homecare program is to be brushing your pet’s teeth on a daily basis to remove plaque before it becomes firmly attached to the tooth surface and before it mineralizes to become tartar. Plaque will form on a clean tooth within hours and can start to form tartar within a few days. Therefore brushing daily will be far more effective than doing it two or three times a week. Doing it less than every other day actually provides no benefit.

    When starting a homecare program, it is important to start slowly, letting your pet get use to each new phase before moving to the next. By introducing the program in small, easy to accept steps, and by including lots of positive reinforcement, most pets will come to truly enjoy having their teeth brushed. This is neither a contest nor a race. Take it as slowly as necessary to avoid upsetting your pet, because once they decide they do not like what you are doing, it will take a long time to overcome that.

    Here are eight steps you can take to help maintain your pet’s dental health:

    Step 1

    Step 1:
    When to start? As soon as possible. Eight to 12 weeks old is best. Pets don’t need maintenance this young, but by brushing the baby teeth they will become familiar with the routine when the permanent teeth erupt. It is a good idea to stop brushing while your pet is losing its baby teeth as the mouth will be a bit sore and your poking around with the brush will cause more pain. Once all the permanent teeth are in you can pick up where you left off.

    Step 2

    Step 2:
    The first step is to work with your pet’s mouth. With a little patience your pet will soon accept your attention. Make it fun for both of you. Use a lot of love and especially praise to gain their confidence. Try to have your practice sessions at the same time each day so your pet gets into a routine. Late in the evening often works well, as everyone involved is generally in a quiet mood then. If your pet is highly motivated by food, try just before dinner with the meal acting as a reward for co-operating.

    Step 3

    Step 3:
    Start by handling the muzzle and tickling the lips and soon you will be able to rub the teeth and gums with your finger. Put a few drops of water, flavored with garlic or garlic salt for dogs and tuna juice for cats, in the mouth daily. They will soon look forward to this treat.

    Step 4

    Step 4:
    Next, use a washcloth or piece of pantyhose, wrapped around the end of your finger and flavored as above, to gently rub the teeth. Start with the front teeth and gradually work towards the back teeth.

    Step 5

    Step 5:
    Finally; use a soft toothbrush to brush the teeth. There are several veterinary brushes available and many human brushes are well suited to animal use as well. Hold the brush at a 45 degree angle to the tooth and brush back and forth or from gum to tip. Brushing the tongue side of the teeth is less critical. Use the garlic water or tuna juice. Make it a game.

    Step 6:
    There is an ever growing selection of veterinary tooth washes, pastes and gels. Your veterinarian can help you select the one best suited to your situation. Some of these products may increase the effectiveness of your home-care program but remember,it’s the brushing that does most of the cleaning. In fact, many veterinary home care products currently on the market have no valid research to show that they are of any benefit. Visit www.vohc.org for a current list of products with valid claims. Brushing daily has been shown to be far more effective than three times a week and is easier to remember than every other day. Human tooth paste is to be avoided as it will cause stomach upset if swallowed. Baking soda, with its very high sodium content can be dangerous to older patients. Hydrogen peroxide can be too harsh for the gums and must not be swallowed.

    Step 7:
    It helps to give mildly abrasive foods and toys such as dry kibble, raw hide strips and dense rubber chew-toys. The Veterinary Oral Health Council has undertaken to certify products that make claims of providing some dental benefit. The list grows as more companies make the responsible decision to obtain valid evidence that their products work. Visit www.vohc.org for the current list and always favor products with a plaque claim over those that just have a tartar claim. Avoid natural bones, antlers (which are actually bone), dried cow hooves and hard nylon toys, ice cubes as these are hard enough to fracture teeth. If you (or your pet) would not want to be hit in the knee-cap with the item, do not let them chew on it!

    Step 8:
    By following a consistent program of home-care, you will greatly improve your pet’s dental health. This will mean fewer professional cleanings, less tooth loss and a happier, healthier pet. However, please remember that there is no substitute for professional veterinary care. We must work as a team to ensure a long and happy life for your pet.