Sylvan Veterinary Hospital

3520 Roselle Ave.
Modesto, CA 95357
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(209) 551–4527
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Pet Dental Care:
Taking a Bite Out of Oral Disease

pet dental care

Did you know that more than 70% of pets exhibit signs of oral disease once they reach the age of 3? Just as with humans, the growth of bacteria in a pet’s mouth can lead to the formation of plaque and tartar. Over time, this can lead to gum disease and oral infections that, if left untreated, may infect other organs within the body such as the heart, liver, or kidneys. That’s why proper pet dental care is an essential part of your pet’s overall wellness plan.


Pet Dental Disease & Teeth Cleanings

How do you know if your pet is experiencing oral issues? Here are a few symptoms to watch out for:

  • Bad breath
  • Red or irritated gums
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Molars are darkened or badly tarnished


Each time you bring your pet to Sylvan Veterinary Hospital for a wellness exam, our veterinarians will carefully inspect his or her teeth, gums, and mouth. If a professional teeth cleaning is necessary, our licensed veterinary nurse will handle your pet with the utmost care. We use the latest in ultrasonic dental equipment, allowing us to achieve a more complete cleaning in less time.

Prior to beginning the procedure, your pet will be placed under anesthesia. We have extensive safety protocols in place to ensure his or her well-being. One of our registered veterinary nurses will scale your pet’s teeth to remove tartar and plaque, then polish them and apply a fluoride treatment.

We will also take this opportunity to verify that everything in your pet’s mouth looks healthy. If there are areas of concern, we will take pet dental X-rays to check the teeth and roots for signs of fractures or infection. If advanced care is needed, our veterinarians have the knowledge and skills to provide it.

At-Home Pet Dental Care

A thorough dental cleaning addresses only about 10% of your pet’s dental needs. The other 90% takes place at home. Our veterinarians will work with you to ensure your pet is receiving the pet dental care he or she needs.

The best way to prevent tartar accumulation and keep your pet’s mouth healthy is to brush his or her teeth. You will need an appropriate pet toothpaste, along with a soft-bristled nylon toothbrush, a finger brush (available at our office), or a gauze sponge. Since pets can be resistant to the process, you will need to ease them into it. This helpful video from WedMD demonstrates how to do this.

In addition to brushing your pet’s teeth, our veterinarians can also recommend products, such as CET chews for dogs and specialized treats for cats, to reduce tartar build-up, as well as oral rinses and dental diets.

Advanced Pet Dental Treatments

We are pleased to offer endodontic treatments for those patients who need them. This advanced form of veterinary dentistry is most often used to treat pets that are suffering from either malocclusions or tooth fractures. In the case of malocclusions, or abnormal bites, treatment typically involves filing down teeth in order to allow pets to close their mouths normally.

Pet Tooth Fracture Repairs

Tooth fractures can be caused by a variety of reasons—anything from an accidental trauma to a pet chewing on hard toys or rawhides. They will often go unnoticed until a pet is brought in for a routine veterinary exam.

There are three basic types of tooth fractures:

  • Enamel fractures
  • Enamel/dentin fractures
  • Enamel/dentin/pulp fractures

The first two types of fractures are basically just a “chip” in the tooth, and there is no pain or bleeding involved. In these cases, our veterinarians will bond the tooth, which seals and covers the chip. This makes the tooth appear normal while also protecting it from infection. The third type of fracture is the most severe. It involves the enamel, dentin, and pulp, which include the nerve and blood vessels inside the tooth. The sooner veterinary care is provided in this case, the better.

If our veterinarians can see a pet within 48 hours of a severe fracture, his or her tooth can be treated with a vital pulp capping. During this procedure, a chemical bond is placed over the top of the tooth, sealing the canal and protecting it from infection. The tooth will be kept alive, and it will continue to grow and thrive. In most cases, vital pulp capping will last for years, if not the pet’s entire life. In rare instances, the tooth can become infected and a root canal will be necessary, or the tooth will need to be extracted.

If a severe fracture if not treated immediately, then a root canal must be performed. Once bacteria have gained entrance into the pulp material, it has to be eradicated. Root canals essentially involve the removal of all material from inside of the tooth. A chemical compound is then used to replace the materials, filling the empty chamber and providing stability to the hollow shell. The tooth is dead but preserved.

The tooth will be weaker than it was when it was alive. In human dentistry, after a root canal the tooth will often be covered with a crown to protect it. Because crowns are very expensive, the veterinary solution is usually to file the tooth down, decreasing its size in order to keep it from breaking.

Root canals will usually last for years and possibly the pet’s entire life. However, just as with vital pulp capping, there are rare instances when infection will set in and extraction will become necessary. One of the big advantages to root canals is that they allow pets to keep their larger teeth, such as their canines, which can be very painful to extract.

The final treatment option for fractured teeth is extraction. Of course this is the most traumatic and painful option of all. Our veterinarians try to exhaust all other options first, but there are times when this is the only treatment left.

Veterinary Services
Pet Wellness
Veterinary Surgery
Veterinary Diagnostics
Pet Dental Care
Pet Nutritional Counseling
Veterinary Artificial Insemination
Specialty Pet Services

AAHA accreditedAmerican Animal Hospital Association’s process of accreditation is similar to what human hospitals go through.


Just wanted to let you know that Allie is doing great after Lap Spay on 4-10-12. Took her one day and she was back to normal. What a great way to get a dog spayed- I will recommend it to all my friends. Here is a photo of Allie that I took yesterday in our pasture with California Poppies. I thought it was cute! Thanks again!!
Karin Wickstrom

I have been taking my Beagle, Destiny, to Sylvan Vet for the last 10 years. She has had many medical problems throughout her life. There were times that I didn’t think she was going to pull though, yet, with wonderful Veterinarians like Dr. Tiffany Cardoza and Dr. Kipp Magnussen, she is still here with me today. I am grateful for their expertise in knowing exactly what she needs and for their compassion towards the both of us, in our hour of need. We are very blessed to know that compassionate help is always there. My deepest thanks and appreciation.
DeAnna Bingham

Sylvan Veterinary Hospital has been an important part of our family’s life for several years now. Most recently they helped to preserve our pug Sweetie’s vision with a new surgery technique. Everyone in the hospital works diligently to serve our needs. There is open communication with the front office staff, the technicians and the doctors whenever necessary. Our concerns and questions are always addressed quickly and the doctors are always available to us whenever needed.
Roger and Diane

What a great neighborhood veterinary clinic! I love the convenient hours and boarding facility. They have a nice, friendly staff and team of doctors who involve me in making the right choice for my pet.
Karin Mcknight

I can’t say enough about the miraculous results you can get from laser therapy. I used it for my puppy’s foot wound that wouldn’t hold stitches. The wound was completely closed in three treatments-without a scar! Also, this pup has elbow dysplasia and laser has helped him quickly regain soundness when he played too roughly. And the best part- it’s not expensive. I’m a tried-and-true believer of this technology.
Lee Nudo and Jagger La Grange, CA

Eleven years ago, Dr. Kipp Magnussen saved the life of my young kitten and I was genuinely impressed with his compassion and competence. Over the years I have been extremely happy with the care all the vets and vet techs have provided for my various dogs and cats. In addition, it is a mark of commitment to the highest standards of quality medical care that Sylvan Vet is accredited through the AAHA. I continue to highly recommend this clinic.
Page Riskin, MD

We have been a client of Sylvan Vet for the past 20 years. Just recently, Bodie, our Chocolate Lab experienced a wound to his back that was quite serious. After two months of patience, determination and constant care by Dr. Kipp Magnussen, Bodie has been nursed back to health. Kipp's staff has become family to us. Each and every one of them is kind, friendly and compassionate! Bodie just celebrated his tenth Birthday and is even swimming again. Thank you Sylvan Vet!!
Anita Bauer

I love the doctors and staff at Sylvan Veterinary Hospital for the care and compassion they have given my dogs over the years. From luxating patella surgery to nail cleaning, the care level is the highest. I would recommend them to any and all pet owners.
Pat Osdahl