Double A Veterinary Hospital

106 Nott Street
Wethersfield, CT 06109




February - National Pet Dental Health Month


     Bad breath in a dog is often dismissed simply as "doggy breath." In fact, it may signal periodontal disease, which is the most common illness suffered by dogs and cats over 3 years old. Preventing periodontal disease can result in longer, healthier lives for pets.
     Unfortunately, dental care is often ignored by owners. One survey notes that just 1 out of 10 owners makes sure their pets' teeth are cared for. Although dogs and cats rarely get cavities, the plaque and tartar that do form can cause gingivitis and periodontal disease. This can lead to tooth decay, bleeding gums and tooth loss. The bacteria that causes all this can travel through the bloodstream and eventually damage the major organs.

    To educate owners February was officially established as National Pet Dental Health Month in 1993 by the AVDS, the American Veterinary Dental College and the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry. Double A Veterinary Hospital is offering special promotions and incentives in January and February, in an effort to increase public awareness of the dangers of periodontal disease.

Please click on the link to read these very important articles:


Dental Home Care

Toothbrushing and Dental Prophylaxis in Cats and Dogs

What to Expect if Your Pet Needs Dental Care

Periodontal Disease in Pets

A Guide to Feline Dental Care




When your pet is admitted to the hospital for a dental cleaning, it is usually after a recent physical exam that indicated that your pet had some level of periodontal disease, plaque accumulation or gingivitis. Studies have shown that 85% of all dogs and cats over one year old have some degree of periodontal disease. Imagine what our mouths would look like if we never brushed!!

Your pet is then handled by our technicians who obtain pre-anesthetic bloodwork (mandatory for animals over 7). This gives the veterinarian an idea of  your animal's liver and kidney function, screens for other blood disorders and gives us an idea of how well your animal will metabolize the anesthesia and how fast it will be removed from the body.

Once your animal  has been cleared for surgery, it is given a subcutaneous (under the skin) injection of a sedative/pain reliever. A few minutes later, the animal is relaxed and groggy. He/She is then given an intravenous (in the vein) injection of anesthetic, and drifts off to sleep. A tube is placed in the trachea to assist with breathing, and the plane of anesthesia is maintained via gas through that same tube. The animal is observed at all times by a technician, and machines measure pulse and respirations.

At that point, full mouth dental radiographs (x-rays) are obtained to evaluate the health of the jaw and the tooth roots below the gumline. The supragingival (above the gumline) plaque and tartar are removed using special calculus forceps, hand instruments, and power scaling equipment. We examine individual teeth for mobility, fractures, malocclusion, and periodontal disease (probe for pocket depths after calculus is removed). Special curettes are used to probe the subgingival (below the gumline) spaces as well as remove any deposits.

Regardless of how careful we are during the scaling/curettage phase of teeth cleaning, minor defects of the tooth surface occur. Polishing smooths out the defects and removes plaque missed during previous steps. Pumice or polishing paste is used on a polishing cup for the procedure. Any excess paste or debris is flushed away when the teeth are rinsed. A fluoride rinse or oral gel can then be applied.

The pet owner is an integral part of our dental team. Home care is the single most important procedure the owner can do to maintain oral health. If performed regularly, daily brushing will dramatically increase the interval between teeth cleaning appointments.

Plaque is constantly being made and deposited in the mouth. Humans have a buildup of plaque in the morning, that makes our breath smell bad. Proper home care can keep plaque buildup under control. The goal of dental home care is to remove plaque from tooth surfaces and gingival sulci before it mineralizes into calculus, a process that occurs within days of a teeth cleaning. Success depends on the owner's ability to daily brush the teeth, as well as the dog or cat's acceptance of the process. True oral cleanliness can only be achieved through the mechanical action of toothbrush bristles above and below the gingiva.

Home care is best started at a young age before the adult teeth erupt. The perfect time to introduce dental home care is at the first puppy or kitten visit. The client-animal bond as well as the client-veterinary bond is enhanced when daily brushing is performed following instructions given at the animal hospital.

Clients often ask, "doesn't hard food keep teeth clean?" Some believe when their dog or cat chews on hard food or biscuits, mineral deposits are broken down and the teeth stay clean. This is not true. True, animals on soft diets accumulate plaque more readily than those on dry foods, but the only way to keep teeth clean above and below the gum line is by daily brushing.