The vets at Ruckersville Animal Hospital provide preventive and restorative pet dental health care and surgery for cats and dogs.

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Comprehensive Dental Care for Cats & Dogs

Routine dental care is a critical component of cats' and dogs' oral and overall health, but most pets don't get the oral hygiene care they need to keep their teeth and gums healthy. 

At our Ruckersville veterinary hospital, we provide Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment & Treatment (COHAT) for your pet, from basics such as dental exams, teeth cleanings, and polishing, to dental X-rays and surgeries.

We also make a point of providing dental health education to pet owners about home dental care for their pets. 

Dental Care, Ruckersville Vet

Dental Surgery in Ruckersville

We understand that finding out that your pet needs dental surgery can be overwhelming. We strive to make this process as stress-free as possible, for you and for your pet. 

We'll do everything we can to ensure your pet's experience with us is comfortable and easy. We'll break down each step of the process to you in detail before the procedure, including preparation and post-operative care requirements. 

We offer jaw fracture repair surgeries, tooth extractions, and gum disease treatment for dogs and cats.

Pet Teeth Cleaning & Exams

Much like your annual checkup at the dentist, your dog or cat should come in for veterinary dentistry procedures such as an annual checkup at least once a year. Pets who are more prone to dental problems than others may need to see us more often. 

Ruckersville Animal Hospital can assess, diagnose and treat dental health problems in cats and dogs. 

  • Symptoms

    If you notice any of the following symptoms in your pet, it's time for a dental checkup.

    • Tartar buildup
    • Loose and/or broken teeth
    • Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
    • Bleeding from the mouth
    • Bad breath 
    • Pain or swelling in or around the mouth
    • Reduced appetite or refusal to eat
    • Abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth 
    • Discolored teeth 
    Contact Us to Book a Dental Checkup
  • Assessment

    A thorough pre-anesthetic physical assessment will be completed for your pet before the dental exam. 

    We will do a blood analysis to ensure it's safe for your pet to undergo anesthesia. Additional diagnostics, such as an ECG may also be conducted. 

    Once your pet is under anesthesia, we will conduct a complete oral examination (tooth by tooth) and charting. 

  • Treatment

    Next, the teeth are cleaned and polished (including under the gum line) and x-rays are taken. 

    If advanced periodontal disease is found, the veterinarian will develop a treatment plan and discuss it with you. 

  • Prevention

    Ideally, a follow-up examination will be scheduled two weeks after the initial assessment and treatment appointment. 

    During this visit, we will discuss implementing teeth brushing at home. We can also recommend products that can help improve your pet's oral health. 

FAQs About Pet Dental Care

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions from our clients about veterinary dentistry.

  • Why do pets need their teeth cleaned?

    Our pets can develop periodontal disease or tooth decay as a consequence of poor oral health. 

    Just like in humans, when animals eat, plaque sticks to their teeth and can build up into tartar if not removed regularly. 

    This can lead to infections in the mouth, periodontal disease, tooth decay, and even loose or missing teeth. That's why regular dental care is essential to preventing pain or disease in the gums.

    Contact Us to Book a Dental Checkup

  • What does a comprehensive oral health assessment & treatment include?

    The COHAT procedure is an all-inclusive oral assessment and treatment, which is performed while your pet is under general anesthesia. Every procedure includes the following:

    • Preanesthetic blood screening: ​Checks RBC, WBC, hydration level, liver and kidney values
    • Preanesthetic ECG: Checks heart rate and rhythm to ensure there are no abnormalities that would cause increased anesthetic risk
    • IV Catheter + fluids
    • Antibiotic injection before the procedure
    • General anesthesia
    • Full-mouth digital dental radiographs
    • Ultrasonic scaling of all teeth
    • Local anesthetic blocks as needed for any potential extractions
    • Anti-inflammatory/pain injection if applicable before any extractions
    • Extractions of all medically necessary teeth +/- suturing of extraction sites
    • Laser treatment to all extraction sites
    • Polishing of all remaining teeth
    • Continued monitoring and IV fluids are administered by our Licensed Veterinary Technicians until your pet is discharged from the hospital
  • How can I tell if my pet has oral hygiene issues?

    Did you know behavior may be an indication of oral health problems? If your pet is experiencing dental problems, they may drool excessively (and the drool may contain pus or blood), or you may notice them pawing at their mouth or teeth. They may also yawn excessively, grind their teeth, or stop grooming sufficiently.

    Other signs of oral health problems include bad breath, swollen gums, and tooth discoloration. Some pets may even suffer from pain that keeps them from eating. Read more about symptoms to the left under Pet Teeth Cleaning & Exams. 

  • What is periodontal disease and how does it affect pets?

    Periodontal disease, which includes gingivitis and periodontitis, is an inflammation and/or infection of the gums and bone surrounding your pet's teeth. It is caused by bacteria that can accumulate in the mouth, which forms a soft plaque on the teeth which later hardens into tartar. If left untreated, periodontal disease can eventually lead to tooth loss.

    Periodontitis affects more than just the teeth. Chronic periodontal disease not only affects the structure and function of the teeth but can seriously affect overall health. Bacteria associated with severe periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream and serve as the source of infection for other organs, including the lungs, kidneys, heart, and liver.

  • What long-term problems can poor oral health potentially cause in my pet?

    Besides causing problems ranging from cavities and bad breath to severe periodontal disease, oral health issues and conditions can lead to disease in the liver, kidney, heart, and other areas throughout your pet's body. 

    Cysts or tumors may develop. Your pet may also not feel well in general. In addition, diseases related to oral health conditions can shorten the lifespan of your pet and cause significant pain. 

    This is why veterinary dentistry and regular dental care are so important to animals' physical health and wellbeing. 

  • What happens during a pet's teeth cleaning appointment?

    During your pet’s regular oral exam, the vet will examine their mouth and look for oral health conditions or any symptoms needing treatment.

    The vet will clean tartar and other debris from your cat's or dog's teeth. If cavities, gingivitis, or other conditions need to be addressed, the vet will explain these to you and provide advice on which actions you should take. 

    In some cases, surgery will be needed to treat serious conditions. Your pet will be provided with anesthesia before their dental procedure to ensure they are comfortable and do not experience any pain. However, special care will be needed post-surgery. 

    If you notice any of these symptoms, schedule a dental appointment with us. 

  • What should I do at home to keep my pet’s teeth clean between dental appointments?

    At home, you should brush your pet's teeth regularly and give them dental chew toys. These will help eliminate plaque. 

    Do not allow them to chew on things that will damage their teeth, such as bones, toys, or objects that are too hard. Always contact your vet with any questions or concerns regarding your pet's oral health.

    • Tartar buildup
    • Loose and/or broken teeth
    • Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
    • Bleeding from the mouth
    • Bad breath 
    • Pain or swelling in or around the mouth
    • Reduced appetite or refusal to eat
    • Abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth 
    • Discolored teeth 
  • What is the purpose of a dental radiography?

    Every patient that goes under anesthesia for a COHAT procedure, receives full-mouth radiographs. About 2/3 of the structure of dogs' and cats' teeth lies below the gum line, invisible to the unaided eye. With the use of dental radiography, we can get information about the soft tissue and bone surrounding the tooth, the interior (pulp, dentin) of the tooth, and the supportive structures. Dental radiography also allows us to identify tumors, fractures, bone and pulp disease, and resorptive lesions.

    Dental radiography is commonly used to evaluate:

    • Mandibular/maxillary soft or hard tissue instability, swelling, or asymmetry
    • Intra- or extraoral draining tracts
    • Teeth with exposed pulp or roots
    • Injured teeth
    • Supernumerary (extra) teeth
    • Malformed or missing teeth
    • Before and after tooth extractions
    • Nasal or oral tumors
    • Discolored teeth
    • Areas that have advanced periodontal disease
    • Diseases affecting the mouth

Veterinary Dentistry: Anesthesia & Your Pet's Oral Health

Cats and dogs do not understand what is going on during dental procedures, and will often react to dental procedures by struggling or biting.

Similar to the anesthesia provided to nervous or anxious patients by dentists, our Ruckersville vets provide anesthesia to all of our patients before performing dental procedures. This puts less stress on the animals and allows us to x-ray their mouth as needed. 

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