Dental Disease in Pets  

Dental problems in pets is very common and about 80% of pets have dental disease, which is often painful. Dental disease is often classified as a progression through 4 stages.

  • Stage 1: Tartar without Gingivitis
  • Stage 2: Tartar with Gingivitis
  • Stage 3: Tartar, Gingivitis and early Periodontal Disease
  • Stage 4: Tartar, Gingivitis and severe Periodontal Disease

Stage 1 disease is reversible and preventable with good home care

Stage 2 disease is painful but still is reversible

Stage 3 and 4 disease involves irreversible painful disease in the patient's mouth and will reoccur regardless of home care (although good home care can delay progress of disease). Teeth may need to be extracted

 Stage 4 disease has loose and damaged teeth that need extracting due to extensive infection and bone loss.

Unfortunately most pets are not treated early enough in the progression of dental disease. We often treat patients that already have stage 3 and 4 disease because they have obvious painful problems, but to prevent irreversible damage, pain, and lost teeth we need to be treating the earlier stages of disease. 

Common signs of a dental problem:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Unwillingness to eat hard food
  • Drooling
  • Bad breath
  • Plaque or tartar build up on teeth
  • Swollen, red or bleeding gums
  • Missing or broken teeth
  • Weight loss
  • Pawing at mouth

My vet at my annual health check vet advised a dental procedure

The treatment of stage 1 and 2 dental disease involves cleaning the pets’ teeth under general anaesthetic, using an ultrasonic descaler and manual tools to remove the tartar and plaque, and then a fluoride containing polish to strengthen the enamel surface of the tooth.

Sometimes more severe disease can be undetectable until the mouth is fully examined under general anaesthetic.

Teeth that are loose, or have significant periodontal bone loss due to infection, or are broken with exposed pulp cavity are painful and will need to be extracted.

Despite proper cleaning and polishing under anaesthetic , plaque and tartar producing bacteria will return quickly, and repeated cleaning will be necessary. This process can be slowed by good homecare following the dental cleaning procedure, especially where only stage 1 or 2 disease (reversible) was present.

As with most things in life, prevention is definitely better than cure. Regular and frequent attention to your pets teeth may avoid a clean under anaesthesia and improve your pets overall health

I don't understand my estimate - why a price range?

During the initial examination it is often difficult to assess what is happening under the tartar or to the tooth roots until the dental xrays have been taken. We can only estimate what teeth, (if any) need to be extracted, therefore your estimate will display individual tooth extractions and the costs involved to extract them.

The clinic will give you a call before extractions - so you are aware of what they have found.

What happens during a dental procedure?

Your pet will have a pre-medication injection which is usually a combination of sedative and pain relief.  The anaesthetic drugs and fluids are given into a vein on a front leg so your pet will have a small clipped-up area here.  A tube is placed down the windpipe and tied into position.  The back of the throat is then carefully packed to prevent fluid going down the gullet or around the tube.

Initially, any large lumps of tartar are removed, then the teeth are ultrasonically scaled above and below the gum line.  The teeth are subsequently probed and investigated to find any specific problem areas. X-rays are used to assess teeth and the bone around them 

Any teeth with problems which will not resolve after treatment will need to be extracted.  

Some teeth can be very difficult to extract, and we may need to use a surgical technique called a 'surgical flap', which is elevating the gum, to expose the bone and then the tooth root.

Sometimes when teeth have been extracted the sockets are stitched.  The sutures are dissolvable and do not need removing.

What happens after a dental procedure?

Very occasionally animals will need to stay at the surgery overnight. This might occur in a very old or frail animal, or if many teeth have been extracted.

Cats will need to be kept inside at home overnight for the first night.

Some patients can have an upset tummy after an anaesthetic, so we recommend a small bland meal on the first evening – boiled white fish or chicken (with rice for dogs) is a good choice. After this, it will depend on how many teeth are extracted as to when you put your pet back on its normal diet. In general, dry food is much better for teeth than tinned or sachet food. 

Some animals will take a few days to fully recover from an anaesthetic, occasionally some develop a slight cough, after the tube that keep the airway open during anaesthesia is removed, this will settle in a couple of days.

Your pet may have been sent home with medication, please read the label carefully and ensure that all medication is administered as instructed. 

You will be asked to make an appointment for about one week after the procedure to discuss further prevention and for the vet to recheck your pets mouth.


Pre Surgery Instructions No food from midnight
Remember no food from midnight  and no breakfast on the day of surgery. Water is allowed.

Admit time 
Your pet will have been allocated an admission time on the day of his surgery. Please arrive 5 minutes early and have given your pet, chance to go to the toilet.

Pre anaesthetic blood test
You will be asked regarding decision for pre-anaesthetic blood testing unless your pet is a senior. (7 years or older - blood testing is a must before anaesthesia)

Mobile number
You'll need a mobile number for the person who can be contacted during the day and who will collect your pet after surgery

We require a 50% deposit on all dental surgeries in the morning at admission

Collecting your pet
You will receive a sms in the afternoon to advise you that your pet is in recovery ( back in bed), at this point you can give us a call and we will advise on a discharge time with a vet - anticipating between 4-6pm same day

Discharge appointment 

Finding of xrays and blood test results will be discussed when your pet goes home