Dental Health

Profesional Dental Cleaning and Extractions

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This is the last of three blogs I have written for Pet Dental Awareness Month. This one is about professional dental care and will hopefully provide you with a better understanding of what happens when your pet is admitted into the hospital for a dental procedure and most importantly why we do it what we do!




petdental2Just like people, our pets’ teeth ideally should be professionally scaled and polished regularly. This procedure not only cleans off the obvious brown tartar that you can see but more importantly it cleans underneath the gum line. Scaling underneath the gums reduces painful gingivitis (swollen and painful gums) and helps the diseased gums heal, and reduces worsening of gum recession.

A common question we get is why pets need to be under general anesthesia for dental cleaning.

The answer is fairly simple: in order to scale and polish all of their teeth at all angles, especially scaling under the gum line, it is simply impossible to do properly with the pet awake. Unlike a person in a dental chair, we cannot reason with the pet as to why they need to keep completely still while we put an instrument in their mouth and perform a procedure for a significant period of time that may be uncomfortable for them. Physical restraint is not an option. Even if it was possible, it would require several skilled restrainers and be extremely stressful for your pet and it still would be unlikely that each tooth could be properly cleaned and graded and scaling under the gum line could be done properly. It is also important that they are intubated (a breathing tube attached to an oxygen/anesthethic machine) so they cannot aspirate any fluid into their lungs during the procedure.

Some people have a fear of general anesthesia. At your pet’s next annual exam (or any time your pet is in), we encourage you to talk to the veterinarian and/or technicians about precautions and safety procedures we have in place as well as specific concerns you may have about your pet. It is important to remember that the risk for anesthesia for young healthy pets is very low



It is a common concern that a pet will need many teeth extracted.

I will never forget an older gentleman that brought in his dog for an exam. Afeter I examined his dog I discussed with him that some of the teeth were very infected and needed to be extracted. I was well aware that a lot of people don’t like the thought of their pet’s teeth being removed. To my surprise, the gentleman said to me, “Doc, do what you need to do. I had all of my teeth taken out two years ago, and I only wish that I had done that years earlier! They were causing me so much pain.”

As much as we would like to always see teeth that only require cleaning, many times we do come across ones that are beyond salvageable. When a tooth is infected and painful, the best option for the pet is to have it removed.

Will your pet still be able to eat with some of their teeth gone? The answer is, absolutely. In the wild, their ancestors needed their teeth to tear away meat. In captivity with our kibble and canned food pets really do not even need ANY of their teeth to be able to eat their food.


I hope this has answered some of your questions and busted some common myths about our pets’ oral health. If you have any further questions, please feel free to give us a call!

Dr. Lilla Yan

Pet Dental Care Do’s and Don’ts

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Quick Do’s and Don’ts about caring for your Pet’s teeth:


By Dr. Lilla Yan


DO brush your pets teeth every day. Studies have shown that brushing less than every 48 hours is much less effective.

Dental Health

DO use a pet toothpaste. Pets don’t know how to spit out the toothpaste, and ingesting human toothpaste can cause upset stomach. Pet toothpaste is also usually flavoured with chicken, beef, or fish flavours.


DO use a soft-bristle toothbrush. Human toothbrushes are fine.


DO make it a fun experience for your pet. Start by putting a small amount of toothpaste on your finger, and rub that on their gums. After they get used to this daily ‘treat’, switch to toothbrush and start brushing their teeth.

CET samples

DO feed a dental diet where appropriate. We recommend Prescription Diet T/D for dogs and cats.

T/D dental diet

T/D dental diet

How T/D works

How T/D works

DO check your pets mouth regularly. Check their mouth every day when you brush their teeth. Your pet’s mouth should also be examined be a veterinarian at least once a year.

2012-04-15 20.49.44

DO ask one of our team members before giving your pet a new dental product. There are a growing number of dental products on the market, eg. chews, oral rinses, water additives and gels.Some are beneficial while others simply do not do much.

View our own toothbrushing video for tips…

DONT feed chews that are too hard, eg. beef/pork bones, antlers. We have seen numerous tooth fractures in dogs that have chewed on these products, and broken teeth needs to be either extracted or have root canal therapy done.


DONT worry about brushing the inside of the teeth (the tongue side). But you should brush all around the mouth and all the way to the back teeth.


DONT brush your pets teeth if their gums are red and irritated. If your pet has signs of gingivitis, you should talk to your veterinarian before you start to brush their teeth. It could be painful to have their gums brushed.

Dr. Lilla Yan

Myth Busting: Pet Dental Oral Surgery and Professional Cleaning

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Everyday veterinarians talk to pet owners about Pet Dental Surgery and there are so many myths and untrue beliefs out there! I have tackled a few of the most common ones in this blog
Dr. Lilla Yan
Royal York Animal Hospital

MYTH #1. Pets dont need their teeth cleaned.

Just like people, our pets’ teeth ideally should be professionally scaled and polished regularly. This procedure not only cleans off the obvious brown tartar that you can see but more importantly it cleans underneath the gum line. Scaling underneath the gums reduces painful gingivitis (swollen and painful gums) and helps the diseased gums heal, and reduces worsening of gum recession.

Here are some before and after photos for you to consider:

Hecktor Before

Hecktor (Cairn Terrier) Before Professional Cleaning

Hector after professional cleaning

Hecktor after professional cleaning

Sorbet before professional cleaning

Sorbet after

Sorbet after professional cleaning

MYTH #2. General anesthesia is scary and dangerous to my pet.

With modern technology, medications and anesthetic monitoring, the risk of anesthesia for healthy pets is very low. Pre-anesthetic bloodwork is done to endure a pet’s liver/kidneys/other internal organs are functioning well enough to handle the anesthetic. IV fluids during the procedure ensures their blood pressure is maintained at the correct level. While under anesthesia, we also monitor the pet’s heart rate/rhythem, oxygenation level, temperature, carbon dioxide level, blood pressure, etc; and we adjust the anesthesia according to a pet’s need.

Mr. Fluffy's dental cleaning

Mr. Fluffy’s dental cleaning

Mr. Fluffy 3 Mr. Fluffy 2

MYTH #3. General anesthesia is unnecessary for dental cleaning in pets.

In order to scale and polish all of their teeth at all angles, especially scaling under the gum line, it is simply impossible to do so properly with the pet awake. In March 2014, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that it’s illegal for non-veterinarians to perform anesthesia-free dental cleanings:

Anesthesia-free dental cleaning only cleans away tartar on the tooth surface, but leaves behind the most important part of cleaning – cleaning under the gum line. So even though the tooth looks whiter, it does not address infection / bone loss under the gums, which in turn can have profound effect on a pet’s health.


MYTH #4. Extraction is a painful procedure for my pet.

If a tooth needs to be extracted, it probably has been causing pain for a while. Extraction does more to alleviate pain rather than causing pain. We do many things to minimize pain from extraction itself – pets get pain medications before anesthesia, while under anesthesia they wouldn’t feel any pain at all, they may also get local freezing to freeze part of the jaw to further reduce pain. After a dental surgery, a pet is prescribed appropriate pain medication to keep them comfortable. Vast majority of pets that have had extractions eat normally within 24 hours of the surgery.

An infection of a tooth root causing infection of the jaw bone

An infection of a tooth root causing infection of the jaw bone

This dog's jaw broke because of a chronic tooth infection.

This dog’s jaw broke because of a chronic tooth infection.

MYTH #5. My pet wont be able to eat after the extractions.

In the wild, animals need their teeth to tear away meat. In captivity with our kibbles and canned food, pets usually do not even any of their teeth to be able to eat their food properly. Many pet owners have also reported that, after extraction of painful teeth, their pet is eating better than before the extractions!



February is National Pet Dental Health Month!

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February is National Pet Dental Health Month! At Royal York Animal Hospital we will do our best to get as much information out there this month to promote awareness about pet dental health and why pet dental health is important.

It is important to teach your pet to like getting their teeth brushed!

It is important to teach your pet to like getting their teeth brushed!

Why is dental health important for your pet?

All of us are used to brushing our own teeth, flossing and visiting the dentist regularly. Some of us have experienced toothaches. Similarly, our pets’ teeth require attention to keep their mouth healthy and pain-free. Inflamed or infected teeth and gums are painful in pets, just like they are in people. Studies have also shown that tooth and gum issues can lead to fractures of teeth, infected jaw bones, blindness, oral cancer, liver disease, kidney disease and heart disease.

But Doc, my pet does not have a problem eating….

This is a comment that veterinarians hear often. Our pets will continue to eat because in the wild, if their ancestors stopped eating or acted sick, they would soon be caught by their predators. Animals are born to hide their illnesses and because they can’t speak, they can’t come to us and tell us that their teeth hurt.

One reason that we know that their teeth hurt is that some pet owners will say to us: “Wow, my pet is more active and seems happier after they have had professional dental cleaning in the hospital. With the infected teeth extracted and gingivitis (sore gums) addressed, and their teeth professionally cleaned their pet is pain-free which tells us that before this procedure, their teeth did indeed hurt and there was simply no way of them telling us.

Animals have a similar pain threshold to ours. This means that during your pet’s annual exam, if the veterinarian sees inflamed gums and infected teeth, then they ARE in pain of various degrees.

Before and After Professional Dental Cleaning

Before and After Professional Dental Cleaning

Concerned? Flip your pet’s lip up, over his molars, and check the gum line for redness and plaque buildup. Then get a little closer and SNIFF. The next question should be “Is my pet painful and possibly requires a professional dental cleaning?” or “what can I do to keep these pearly whites this way?”







Dr. Lilla Yan 178640964

Royal York Animal Hospital

4222 Dundas Street West, Etobicoke, Ontario M8X 1Y6 416-231-9293




The Unfortunate Truth: Why Your Smile is Healthier Than Your Dog’s

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The Veterinarians here at Royal York Animal Hospital see our fair share of teeth in a day. Sometimes we see them in the mouth of a snarling Rottweiler – other times in a smiling pet-owner. Fortunately for us, many of the pearly whites we see on any given day are healthy ones. Unfortunately it is more often the pet owner’s teeth that are considerably healthier than their pets…

I often wonder: Why is that? How is it that we feel our own teeth need a twice-a-year tune up (once a year at a minimum) at the dentist office but to some a teeth cleaning for their pets once every year or two seems laughable? It pains me to say this but the disparities between human and pet dental care do not stop there. Below is some food for thought – some comparisons, if you will – on the way we care for our own teeth and how we don’t care for our pet’s teeth.

Pet Dentist in Etobicoke, Ontario

Don’t let the disguise fool you – dogs and people require the same sort of maintenance on their teeth to keep them in good shape !


Daily Home Care

I am going to go out on a limb here and assume you brush your own teeth at least once (twice? three times?) daily (thumbs up for you if you floss too!). Now here’s the question you knew I would ask: How many times per day do you brush your dog’s teeth? For most people that answer is zero. Imagine how disgusting your mouth would get after one week of not brushing. No offence, but your breath would be horrendous! Now imagine one year. Now imagine your entire life. Gross! Dog’s teeth are just like ours and need regular brushing at home in order to prevent bacteria from ‘setting up shop’.
The Bottom Line: Brush you’re dogs teeth daily or expect to deal with dental problems later in your pets life.

Eating the Proper Diet

I often hear clients say to me, “We don’t brush his/her teeth but we feed a dry food so that keeps their teeth clean”. Unfortunately it’s not that simple. The average pet food has the same texture as an oatmeal cookie. Imagine if your kids stopped brushing and instead just ate a few oatmeal cookies each morning – ew! I guarantee their dentist would not be pleased at their next visit.
The Bottom Line: Your dog’s food needs to be a prescription-grade food with dental claims on the label (supported by scientific studies, VOHC approved) in order for it to truly help keep their mouth in good shape. Regular pet-store brand kibble will not keep your dog’s mouth healthy for long.

The Costs of a Healthy Smile

Imagine there are two next-door neighbours with similar homes on your street. Neighbour A is very tidy and cleans their house from top to bottom 1-2x per week. Neighbour B is a complete and utter slob who hasn’t cleaned at all for 5 years. If they both want to have their homes deep cleaned by a professional cleaning service, which do you think is going to pay more? Of course it’s neighbour B! The same principle goes for our pet’s mouths- without regular maintenance (ie brushing, dental diets) the amount of work the vet has to do increases exponentially. And more work = more $$$. If you brush your dog’s teeth regularly at home, having their teeth cleaned once every 1-2 years would cost the same (or even less!) than the average person spends on their own dental bills.
The Bottom Line: Regular maintenance means cheaper vet bills. Ignoring your pet’s oral hygiene is very expensive.


Pet Dental Care in Etobicoke, Ontario

“Just a quick clean up for me this year, doc”. Think again ! This mouth has been neglected for years and will take several hours (and cost thousands) to repair.

So if you’re thinking “WE GET IT DOC. We are going to start brushing TODAY”, then good for you! Need some pointers on how to do it? Click HERE for our how-to video on brushing your dog’s teeth.

Want more info? I highly recommend you check out Dr. Fraser Hale (board certified veterinary dentist) and his wonderful website for tips on home dental care.

An Oral health assessment is part of your pet’s Annual Health Exam. We will discuss dental home care individualized for your pet and /or if your pet requires a professional dental cleaning.

Of course, we are always available to help! Give us a call : 416-231-9293

Dr. Zach Jones

Royal York Animal Hospital 4222 Dundas Street West, Etobicoke, Ontario

dog having its teeth brushed


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Imagine what your mouth would feel like if you never brushed your teeth or went to the dentist. For many dogs and cats, this is a painful reality. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have dental disease by the age of 3. Dental (or periodontal) disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem in pets.

Common signs of dental disease include:

  • Yellow or brown buildup (tartar) on the teeth
  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • Excessive drooling
  • Changes in eating or chewing habits
  • Pawing at the face
  • Loose teeth
  • Depression

Even if your dog or cat doesn’t have these symptoms, we recommend that you have a veterinarian evaluate your pet’s dental health at least once a year. Bacteria and food debris accumulate around the teeth and, if left unchecked, will lead to deterioration of the soft tissue and bone surrounding the teeth. This decay can result in irreversible periodontal disease, tooth loss, and possibly expensive oral surgery.

Dental disease can also affect other organs in the body: Bacteria in the mouth can get into the bloodstream and cause serious infections in the kidneys, liver, lungs, and heart. If these problems aren’t caught and treated quickly enough, they can result in death. A physical exam combined with appropriate laboratory work can determine if infection in the mouth has spread.

Schedule your pet’s dental exam today! We can also show you how to brush your pet’s teeth and recommend foods and treats that will help combat plaque and tartar buildup.