Dr. Bob's Animal Health and Information  Site



Dr. Bobs Pet Health and Information Site




Dr. Bob's All Creatures Site 

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Dr. Bob's All Creatures Site  

509 Benicia Road, Vallejo, California, USA 707-642-4405


Winter 2001 Newsletter


Pet Dental Health-The steps necessary for proper care

Chew on these pet dental facts

Interesting pet dental trivia

Common pet dental health questions

What are Cervical Line Lesions?

Bad Breath - Take a look in your pet's mouth.





I wonder who the first person was to use the term "no brainer". I don't know. I even "Ask Jeeves" on the internet and they didn't know.  If you are not familiar with the term, it refers to something that is so easy to comprehend that it does not take any brain capacity to calculate an answer.  The phrase is one of those wonderful contemporary culture extracts that has found its way into general usage in our language.

When you think about it, there really are some things in life that are "no-brainers".  In the veterinary profession for example, the need for your pet to undergo a routing dental procedure is as close to being a no-brainer as any I can imagine.  Oral disease is so broad (approximately 80% of all dogs and 70% of all cats) and

its effects are so potentially grave that , if you value your pet's well being, having a routine dental procedure performed on your pet is really a no-brainer! Left untreated, oral disease can systematically affect the animal's heart, liver, and kidneys in addition to making their life miserable from the oral pain they suffer.  Additionally, pets with advanced oral disease often suffer from nutritional problems because it is usually very painful for them to eat.

February is National Pet Dental Health Month and we have devoted this issue of our newsletter to that topic so that you have the facts necessary to make a decision about your pet's dental health.  I think that once you  read this information, the maintenance of your pet's dental health will become a real "no-brainer"!


The Steps Necessary for Proper Care

Your pet requires professional dental care - just like you! In order to provide the proper care for your pet, the American Veterinary Dental Society recommends that pet owners follow these three basic steps:

1. Take your pet to the veterinarian for a dental exam & cleaning.  Our trained staff can examine your pet's mouth to determine the magnitude of dental work that must be done.  For most pets a simple cleaning is all that is required.  We will first sedate your pet so that he or she does not feel a thing.  Depending on your pet's age and physical condition, the doctor may order blood analysis and other diagnostic tests to evaluate your pet's vital organs for coexisting diseases before proceeding with general anesthesia.  Then, using many of the same sort of instruments your family dentist uses, we will begin polishing your pet's teeth to remove any harmful plaque and tartar.

2. Begin a dental care program at home.  The main thing a pet owner can do to safeguard a pet's dental health is to begin brushing the pet's teeth on a routine basis.  Some brushing suggestions are:

  • Begin your brushing program at an early age.

  • Dipping your index finger in beef stock for dogs or tuna water for cats and gently rubbing your finger over your pet's mouth and teeth is a good way to start.  Keep your sessions short and stroke your pet to make it comfortable.

  • Once you have accustomed your pet to the process introduce a toothbrush designed for pets. (Our staff can recommend the correct type.) Only use toothpaste only designed for use with pets as human toothpaste can cause stomach upset in animals.
  • Small dogs and cats can be wrapped in a towel to restrain them during the brushing process.  Large dogs can be initially wrapped in a blanket to restrain them.  Be assured that once most pets become accustomed to the brushing sessions, the need to restrain them will diminish.

There are various methods of feeding your pet that will help combat oral disease.  Our staff will be happy to suggest items and diets that are best suited for your pet.

3. Schedule regular veterinary checkups.  Regular dental visits are an important part of your  personal dental health care.  The same is true for your pet.  Routine checkups are essential for the proper monitoring of your pet's health.

  • We encourage you to read all of the articles in this newsletter - especially those pertaining to pet dental care.  Once armed with the facts, you'll agree that adhering to the pet dental care regimen we've outlined above is a "no-brainer"!





1. Oral disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem for pets.

  • 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by age 3.

  • Periodontal disease is a common problem in dogs especially in smaller breeds because small dogs' teeth are often too large for their mouths, forcing the  teeth closer together.

  • Cats can develop painful cervical line lesions (pinpoint holes at the base of the gum line).  Studies show that 28% of cats develop one of these lesions during their lifetime

2. Oral disease begins with a buildup of bacteria in the pet's mouth.

  • Bacteria, combined with saliva and food debris between the tooth and gum, can cause plaque formations to accumulate on the teeth.  As bacteria grow in the plaque and as calcium salts are deposited, plaque turns to tartar.

  • If tartar is not removed from the teeth, pockets of pus may appear along the gum  line and further separate the teeth from the gum, which allows for food and bacteria to accumulate.

  • Without proper treatment, this plaque and tartar buildup may cause periodontal disease which affects the tissue and structure supporting the teeth.

3. Periodontitis is irreversible and may lead to other health problems.

  • Unlike the inflamed gums of gingivitis which can be treated and reversed with thorough plaque removal and continued plaque control, periodontitis can only be contained to prevent progression.  The disease causes red, swollen and tender gums, receding gums, bleeding, pain and bad breath.  If left untreated, periodontitis can lead to tooth loss.

4. Pet owners should look for warning signs of oral disease.

  • Common indications of oral disease include bad breath, a change in eating or chewing habits, pawing at the face or mouth and depression.

If you suspect that your pet is suffering from any of the above symptoms, contact us immediately.  When your pet is suffering, time is of the essence!


Pet Dental Trivia


Dog Info

  • Puppies have 28 temporary teeth that erupt at about e to 4 weeks of age.  They have 42 permanent teeth that begin to emerge at about 4 months.

  • Symptoms of gum disease in dogs include yellow and brown buildup of tartar along the gum line, inflamed gums and persistent bad breath.

  • Broken teeth are a common problem, especially among outdoor dogs.

Cat Info

  • Kittens have 26 temporary teeth that begin to  erupt at about two to three weeks of age.  They have 30 permanent teeth that erupt at about 3 to 4 months.

  • Symptoms of periodontal disease in cats include yellow and brown tartar buildup along the gum line, red inflamed gums, and persistent bad breath.

  • Cervical line lesions are the most common tooth disease in domestic cats.  Studies show that about 28% of domestic cats develop at least one of these painful lesions during their lifetime.

We thank the American Veterinary Medical Association & Hill's Nutrition for supplying some information used in this newsletter.




What are

Cervical Line



     Cervical Line Lesions are a common dental problem affecting approximately 60% of all cats.  Many cats with gingivitis or loose teeth are diagnosed with Cervical Line Lesions.  These pinpoint holes (almost like a cavity) develop in the teeth at the base of the gum line.  The lesions collect bacteria that can eventually lead to other ailments like gingivitis.

     Unfortunately, the cause of Cervical Line Lesions is unknown.  Brushing the cat's teeth and routine dental procedures performed by the veterinarian will prevent plaque and tartar deposits from forming.  In  turn, this will reduce the likelihood of bacterial infections of the gums with subsequent tooth loss.

Q. Can pets get cavities?

A. Cavities in pets are relatively rare because their diets are usually  not high in decay causing sugars.  Cavities can be avoided by feeding your pet treats free of sugar and designed specifically for pets.

Q. What causes a dog to break its teeth?

A. Dogs often break teeth  when they chew on items that are just too hard such as a bone or a cow hoof.  Rawhide or other chew toys that soften as the dog chews are a good option.

Q. What is causing a big swollen bump on my cat's gum?

A. Isolated swelling on the gum above one tooth could indicate severe possible problems such as a cervical line lesion or an abscessed tooth.

Q. does it matter whether my pet eats hard or soft food?

A. Studies show that hard kibbles are slightly better at keeping plaque from accumulating on the teeth.  You may have heart that there are special foods proven to help reduce plaque and tartar.  If you think your pet needs a special food, discuss this issue with a member of our staff.

BAD BREATH - Take a Look In Your Pet's Mouth

Examining Your Pet's Mouth Can Reveal the Cause!

Many pet owners mistakenly think that bad breath is just a part of being a dog or a cat.  Nothing is further from the truth!  Bad breath in pets can sometimes indicate the presence of a serious illness but it is most often caused by bacteria that form when plaque and tartar are not removed from the teeth.  This can  cause gum infection or periodontal disease.

If your pet has bad breath, look at the pet's upper teeth by gently pulling back its lips.  Examine the upper canines (the sharp, pointed teeth in the  front corners) and the upper-back molars.  If the gums above the teeth are red and the teeth are covered with brownish plaque, your pet is probably suffering from periodontal disease.

If this sounds like your pet, follow the procedures we have outlined on page 2 of this newsletter. Give us a call today for a dental appointment for your pet.  You will be glad you did.