Your Pet’s Best Bet for Dental & Oral Care
If you’re wondering where to take your pet for his or her dental treatments, you have the opportunity to use the highly educated and experienced staff at Sacramento Veterinary Dental Services. General practitioners of veterinary medicine are skilled and well suited to care for your pet’s general needs, but when it comes to the teeth and oral care, they may not have the tools or the experience to perform the dental procedure your pet needs.
At SacVDS, patient care is our priority and our recommendations are made in the interest of improving your pet’s quality of life. We have the resources and the staff to give your pet state-of-the-art treatments. Please explore the services we offer to see how your pet could benefit from our expertise, and contact us if you have any questions.
If you are a veterinarian in our community, please explore the additional services we offer on our Referrals page.
When performing veterinary dentistry, anesthesia is an essential component to our ability to fully diagnose and treat your pet. Anesthesia has its risks, but the staff of Sacramento Veterinary Dental Services will always take the utmost precaution for every patient. We understand your concerns and our job is to minimize each risk. Our cautious approach and the most-up-to date technology will enable us to safely and confidently anesthetize your pet in order to treat any dental or oral diseases. When your pet comes in for a consultation, we will thoroughly review the steps we follow to ensure that anesthesia can safely be performed. To understand more about this process, please read our Anesthesia Handout. More specific answers to questions about anesthesia can be found in our Frequently Asked Questions, Pet Resources, and What is Anesthesia-Free Dentistry pages.
Dental X-rays & Diagnostics
Dental radiography is the practice of taking X-rays of the teeth in the mouth. Radiography requires special equipment and knowledge in order to obtain and understand the images that are necessary to fully diagnose and treat each dental patient. Did you know that without dental X-rays, more than 25% of dental disease in dogs and 35% of dental disease in cats would go undiagnosed? What these percentages mean is that though things appear normal on the surfaces, disease can be developing beneath the gum line. Symptoms of pain, facial swelling, abscesses, or inflammation of the oral cavity may not become evident until the problem has been present for a very long time. Even with a careful oral exam, there are likely other dental problems that will remain undetected without performing dental radiography.
We specialize in dental radiography at Sacramento Veterinary Dental Services. We use digital dental radiography, which gives us high-quality images within seconds. Digital radiography reduces the amount of radiation your pet is exposed to as well as the length of time under anesthesia. We also have the capability to arrange a variety of additional diagnostic exams for your pet if they are required, including abdominal ultrasound, cardiac ultrasound, chest X-rays, biopsies, and other tests. With these additional capabilities, we can provide a more comprehensive diagnosis of your pet’s condition and treat our patients with the highest level of medicine. For more information, please read our handout on Dental Radiography And Other Diagnostics .
We offer dental radiography consultations to all referring veterinarians. If you are a veterinarian in our community, please explore the services we provide on our Referrals page.
Periodontal Treatment & Surgery
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, affects more than 80% of our cats and dogs. It is the most common disease that affects our pets. Periodontal disease is caused by plaque bacteria that build up on the teeth and can form hardened deposits called calculus or tartar. The plaque bacteria cause inflammation of the tissues that keep the tooth in its socket. Inflammation of the soft tissues (the gums) alone is called gingivitis. Gingivitis is a reversible condition if plaque is kept off the teeth. If it continues to accumulate, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis. Periodontitis means that the inflammation has progressed to involve the bone that supports the tooth in its socket. If this occurs, periodontitis is irreversible and all we can do is attempt to keep it from progressing to loss of the tooth or infection of the tooth root.
The first step in treating periodontal disease is to clean the teeth. It is very important for this to be done by professionals, under anesthesia. To understand more about why anesthesia is vital, please see our information on anesthesia-free dentistry. Professional periodontal treatment involves cleaning and polishing all the surfaces of the teeth, both above and beneath the gum line. Prior to treatment, full-mouth dental X-rays are taken so that we can diagnose periodontal disease, as well as any other disease involving the teeth or bone of the upper and lower jaw, and determine if more advanced therapy will be necessary save the tooth. For more information, please see our handout on Pet Periodontal Disease.
Root Canal Therapy
Root canal therapy is a highly specialized treatment to save a tooth that has died or is going to die. When you look at the anatomy of the tooth, underneath the hard outer layers of enamel and dentin there is the living part of the tooth called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and other cells that allow the tooth to continue to develop throughout your pet’s life. If the pulp is exposed to the oral cavity due to a fracture, cavity, or deep wear, it becomes a direct line of access for bacteria to kill the pulp and cause an infection in the root of the tooth. A root infection is painful and can allow infection to spread from the tooth into the bone. Sometimes, a tooth can die without having broken. In these cases, the tooth may appear whole but is discolored (either a pink, purple, gray, or brown color). If we find a broken or discolored tooth on oral examination, a root canal may be the best option to treat the tooth.
Root canal therapy involves removing the pulp tissue from the tooth, cleaning the pulp chamber out, and then filling it with a sterile material. The root canal is then sealed off from the oral environment by placing a restoration (sometimes called a filling). For more information, please see our handout on Endodontic Disease and Root Canal Therapy.
Vital Pulp Therapy: If a tooth fracture is recent (less than two days old), then it may be possible to keep the tooth alive by performing Vital Pulp Therapy. This “partial” root canal therapy involves placing a dressing on the pulp and then sealing the tooth by placing a restoration, in an attempt to keep the pulp vital. By performing vital pulp therapy, we may avoid the need to extract the tooth or perform a full root canal treatment. For more information on this type of treatment, please read our handout on Vital Pulp Therapy .
Oral Surgery & Extractions
The oral cavity requires special knowledge and unique skills in order to be able to successfully perform surgery and extractions. At Sacramento Veterinary Dental Services, our expertise in oral surgery includes, but is not limited to, the following procedures:
A tooth may need to be removed, or extracted, for many reasons. In dogs and cats, about 70% of the tooth is actually under the gum line. Before we begin the procedure, we first take dental X-rays to evaluate the root and surrounding bone. When we begin surgery, we make an incision in the soft tissues so that we may lift them away from the tooth in order to protect these tissues during tooth removal. We then carefully and delicately remove each root of the tooth before cleaning the sockets, smoothing the bone, and closing the soft tissues over the extraction site with dissolvable sutures. For more information, please see our handout on Oral Surgery and Extractions.
Oral Cancer Surgery
If your pet has been diagnosed with oral cancer, our first goal is to give him or her a good quality of life for as long as we can. Whether or not we can cure your pet of the disease depends on the type of tumor, location of the tumor, and your pet’s overall health. The first goal of the Sacramento Veterinary Dental Services team in treating oral cancer is to provide the best chance for excellent quality of life post-treatment, and we will make our recommendations to you based on your pet’s prognosis.
When surgery is possible, we will often recommend tests to evaluate whether we can safely perform surgery as well as to better determine your pet’s long-term prognosis. If we believe that the tumor can be removed without endangering your pet, we can often achieve an excellent long-term prognosis for survival. After surgery there is usually an initial adjustment period as your pet recovers from the procedure before returning to normal activities. We will help you keep your pet comfortable during this recovery period. For more information, please see our handout on Oral Surgery - Cancer Surgery .
Jaw Fracture Repair
If your pet has broken his or her upper or lower jaw, whether due to trauma or other reasons, we are capable of assessing and repairing these injuries. Depending on the cause, the state of the other teeth in the mouth, and the type and location of the break, there are several methods of repairing these fractures. We assess and treat each patient on an individual basis to ensure the best possible outcome. For more information, please see our handout on Jaw Fracture Repair.
Oronasal Fistula Repair
An oronasal fistula is, in essence, a hole between the oral cavity and the nose. When an oronasal fistula develops, any food and water that is ingested can enter into the nasal cavity and cause chronic inflammation and nasal infections. Oronasal fistulas most commonly occur in dogs and cats when severe periodontal disease affects the teeth of the upper jaws, but they do occasionally form if the patient sustains a traumatic injury. Repairing this condition involves delicate surgery to close the communication between the mouth and the nose. For more information, please see our handout on Oronasal Fistula Repair.
Crowns & Restorative Dentistry
Crown therapy is also commonly known as “capping a tooth” or “placing a full jacket.” It is a procedure that is designed to restore a tooth to normal shape, protect it from further wear or breakage, and to restore the normal gingival margin (where the gum line meets the tooth). When a tooth has been broken, a crown can be a successful way of protecting the tooth after root canal therapy has been performed.
Occasionally, pets also develop conditions that result in weakening of the tooth, such as enamel hypoplasia and cavities (also known as caries), which require restoration of the tooth surfaces. This restoration (sometimes called a filling) is a highly technique-sensitive procedure that can restore the normal appearance of the tooth and help protect it from further damage. For more information, please see our handout on Crowns and Restorative Therapy.
Malocclusions & Orthodontic Treatments
A malocclusion is an abnormality of the bite, or the way the teeth fit together. An abnormal bite can be genetically inherited (passed down by the “parents” of your pet) or may be due to trauma to the jaws when your pet was a growing puppy or kitten. It is very important that you treat a malocclusion in your pet because they can be very painful and lead to permanent damage of other teeth and the bone of the jaws. At Sacramento Veterinary Dental Services, we perform orthodontic corrections for teeth that are causing pain and discomfort or malocclusions that result in abnormal chewing or eating. We do not perform orthodontics for cosmetic reasons. Due to the hereditary nature of some malocclusions, we strongly discourage our clients from breeding dogs requiring orthodontic treatment. For more information, please see our handout on Malocclusions and Orthodontics Treatment.
Cats require extra skill and attention to detail when it comes to their oral cavities. Cats start with 30 teeth, 16 of which are no bigger than a grain of rice. Cats develop periodontal disease and can break teeth just like their canine counterparts (see our information on Feline Periodontal Disease). Additionally, they are more likely to develop conditions unique to felines that result in fragile teeth and roots or that require full-mouth extractions. These conditions include Feline Tooth Resorption and Chronic Gingivostomatitis. With such small teeth and roots, feline dentistry can pose a challenge to treat. Dental X-rays are key to performing feline dentistry, as is good follow-up care and pain management protocols specifically for felines. If you or your primary veterinarian thinks that your cat may need dental surgery, please see our Feline Dental Disease page.