Oral hygiene is an essential part of your pets health.

Annual dental cleanings are highly recommended to prevent dental disease.

Routine cleanings help prevent tooth decay and help detect other evidence of dental disease including pocketing, tooth root abscesses, fractured teeth and oral masses.

Dental radiographs (x-rays) are essential for detecting evidence of oral disease hidden under the surface of the gum line otherwise not seen with a normal physical exam.

Post tooth extraction radiographs further allow veterinarians to confirm that the entire tooth has been properly removed with no roots left behind.

When scheduling your pets next dental cleaning be sure to find out the details of whats included in your veterinarians treatment plan. Effective as of January 2016, every operating veterinary hospital offering dental cleanings is required to have dental radiograph equipment on the premises. Unfortunately not all veterinary practices are up to date with this regulation.

For more information on the importance of annual canine and feline dental cleanings, reference our Dr. Pass' blog Open Wide and say "Woof".

Varying degrees of dental disease:
Other oral abnormalities:
Dogs and cats get cavities (aka caries lesions) just as humans do. This occurs when bacteria or any other harmful substance eats away a tooth's enamel damaging the structure of tooth.
Canine CUPS
Chronic Ulcerative Paradental Stomatitis (aka "CUPS" or "Kissing lesions") is an allergic reaction in the mouth in response to the presence of tartar on the teeth.
Deciduous teeth
Deciduous or "baby" teeth, like humans, are a pets first set of teeth. Puppy and kitten adult teeth begin to grow in between 4-6 months of age causing these deciduous teeth to fall out. Occasionally not all deciduous teeth fall out correctly and remain in the mouth beyond 6 month of age. When this occurs this leaves more space between neighboring teeth for bacteria to invade and cause dental disease.
Gingival Hyperplasia
Gingival hyperplasia is the overgrowth of the gingiva or gum tissue. This condition causes more of a tooth or teeth to be hidden under the gum line allowing for deeper pockets where bacteria can enter. Certain breeds are more predisposed to this than others.
Oral mass
An oral mass (aka oral epulis) is any abnormally growing tissue found on the gingiva (or gums) or along the teeth. These growths can sometimes be cancerous and are usually removed for testing.
Pocketing occurs when there is space between the root of a tooth and the gumline. Bacteria are thus able to enter this space and cause additional peridontal disease.
Tooth Root Abscess
A canine tooth root abscess occurs when bacteria is able to penetrate the gum line via pocketing around a tooth. This creates a severe and very painful bacterial infection under the gum line causing an abscess to form.
Slab fracture
A slab fracture is a fracture along the outer side of one of the largest molars in the mouth resulting in pulp exposure. This is very painful for pets and therefore tends to affect their eating habits.
Feline Stomatitis
Stomatitis is severe inflammation of the tissue inside the mouth. This condition is most common in cats.
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Did you know...

Cats and dogs should have their teeth brushed as often as humans.

  • Canine and feline dental health is similar to that of humans. Just as daily brushing removes and prevents tartar build up and dental disease in a human mouth, the same is true for our pets.

Dental disease can lead to other systemic conditions.

  • Dental disease has been linked to causing other systemic disorders especially relating to cardiovascular health. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream through the gum line causing or exacerbating other systemic ailments.

Dental radiographs (x-rays) can help detect and prevent further dental complications.

  • Pre-surgical dental radiographs help veterinarians to visualize any periodontal disease hidden under the gum line. Post tooth extraction radiographs help to confirm that the entire contents of a tooth and its roots have been properly removed. Pieces of tooth roots accidentally left behind can cause further complications such as an abscess (described above). 

Owners often mistake a severe dental condition with an eye infection.

  • A tooth root abscess​ in the largest upper molar on either side of the mouth (carnassial tooth) can cause severe swelling under the corresponding eye leading people to think the infection is related to the eye.

Smaller canine breeds are more prone to dental disease than larger breeds. 

  • Smaller breeds are more predisposed to tartar build up than larger breeds often requiring more frequent dental cleanings (every 6 months or yearly).

© 2016, Animal Care Clinic, Inc.


Dogs and cats get cavities (aka caries lesions) just as humans do. This occurs when bacteria or any other harmful substance eats away a tooth's enamel damaging the structure of tooth.