Who is Dr. Kris Bannon?

Kris Bannon, DVM, FAVD, DAVDC received her veterinary medical degree from Texas A&M University in 1998. She worked in a small animal hospital in Santa Fe, NM for ten years before starting the first veterinary practice in New Mexico dedicated to the oral health needs of our companion animals.

In 2008, she was the first veterinarian in New Mexico to earn the title Fellow of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry (FAVD). She became a Diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College (DAVDC) in 2010. Both certifications are earned after years of intensive training, followed by a rigorous application process and examination. As a Diplomate of the AVDC, Dr. Bannon became the first and only board-certified veterinary dentist in the state of New Mexico!

She was chosen for the Board of Directors for the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS) in 2006 and elected to President of the AVDS in 2013 for a 2 year term. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Peter Emily International Veterinary Dental Foundation, is a consultant on the dental specialty board of the Veterinary Information Network (VIN), and is on the Animal Health Advisory Board for HealthyMouth, LLC. In her free time, Dr. Bannon enjoys volunteering with the Peter Emily International Veterinary Dental Foundation, using her advanced dental skills to benefit disadvantaged and captive wildlife in sanctuaries across the country. Dr. Bannon enjoys teaching other veterinarians about quality dental care, and lectures frequently within New Mexico and nationwide.

Dr. Bannon is very enthusiastic about dentistry, and wants to share with everyone the positive effects that good dental health and oral hygiene can have on the quality of life for our beloved furry friends. If you have any questions, please feel free to call, email, or just ask.

How common are dental problems in dogs and cats?

One study showed that 80% of dogs and cats over the age of 3 years old had some type of dental problem or periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is the most common disease in small animals (dogs and cats), and it is the most treatable!

Are dental problems painful?

Yes, most dental problems are very painful. Broken teeth can expose the pulp and nerve inside the tooth, periodontal disease can cause teeth to move when your pet is eating, and tooth resorption can cause severe pain. Luckily, most dental problems are treatable and your pet can be returned to a pain-free mouth.

Why doesn’t my pet act like it hurts?

In the wild, animals have to “suffer in silence”. If a tooth hurts, there’s no veterinarian to help them, so they keep going and continue to search for food. They have to eat or they will die, even if every bite hurts. Our pets have developed this stoic nature because they don’t know they have an option. Sometimes the pain will develop slowly over time, and your pet just seems to be “getting older”, or “slowing down”. After treatment and removal of the painful conditions in their mouth, many animals will look and act years younger.

Why does my pet have to go under anesthesia for dental care?

There are approximately 12 steps involved in the proper dental treatment of a pet. If you attempt to treat dental disease in an awake animal, the only step possible will be the removal of tartar from the surface of the teeth. This is only one step, and not even the most important. Dental disease in animals is often painful, and if they are not under anesthesia, they do not understand why they are being restrained while sharp, pointy objects are forced into their mouth. This makes animals more fearful of dental care, and can actually cause further trauma and pain. Most people are fearful of going to their own dentist, and they understand the process and can ask for a few moments rest if they need it. Many people actually ask for anesthesia for themselves at the dentist. We should not torture our pets by forcing inadequate dental care on them when there is a pain-free alternative.

Who is watching my pet while Dr. Bannon concentrates on the teeth?

Dr. Bannon has a trained and experienced veterinary assistant dedicated to monitoring your pet’s anesthesia while she works on the teeth. This assistant will be constantly monitoring your pet’s heart rate, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, EKG, breathing rate, temperature, and blood pressure.

Will I have to brush my dog’s teeth after a cleaning?

Brushing your pet’s teeth is the best way to keep the mouth healthy and free of infection. Imagine how your mouth would feel if you didn’t brush your teeth for a week.

Why does my pet need dental work if I only feed dry food?

Dry food provides a small benefit to the oral health by mechanical chewing action. However, imagine if you only ate crackers and cookies but never brushed your teeth, flossed, or went to the dentist. It wouldn’t be enough, and it’s not for our pets either. Some dry foods are formulated with oral health in mind, and do provide some benefit. However, they are only a small portion of the overall oral health puzzle.

Why does my dog need dental work if I only feed a raw diet?

Raw food diets are often based on uncooked meats, bones and vegetables. Some people report that their dog’s teeth appear “cleaner” and have less tartar when fed a raw diet. This is probably because of the increased chewing action which does provide some benefit. However, the incidence of fractured teeth increases in dogs that are eating bones. Periodontal disease can also develop hidden underneath the gum line, even without tartar on the teeth, where it will not be seen until your pet is anesthetized for a full examination and dental cleaning.

My dog has a discolored tooth, is this a problem?

A discolored tooth is often a sign of a dead or dying tooth. This can happen from blunt trauma to the tooth, or from infection that started elsewhere in the body. This tooth is then filled with dead pulp material that provides a place for bacteria to develop an infection. As this infection drains into the surrounding bone, it can be extremely painful and damaging to the tissues surrounding the tooth. Any tooth that is discolored should be evaluated with an x-ray. The tooth can be extracted, or root canal therapy can be performed to save the tooth.

Is dental treatment painful?

Some dental treatments, such as removing teeth, tumor removal, and jaw fracture repair, require major oral surgery. This can be painful if not managed correctly. We minimize any pain your pet feels by using a balanced anesthesia which includes pain medicine, numbing local “Novocain” type anesthesia, and pain medications to go home for you to give with food for several days after the procedure. Pain management is extremely important to us, and we want your pet to be as pain free as possible. Most pets eat soon after they arrive home from a procedure. If your pet seems painful, please call and talk with us right away.

What causes my pet’s gums to bleed when he/she chews on rawhide or bones?

When the gums bleed, this is gingivitis. Gingivitis is an early stage of periodontal disease, and is reversible. Regular brushing (every day to every other day) will encourage healing of the gums and the bleeding will become less with time. If the gums continue to bleed after you stop brushing, or your pet acts painful when you brush, you should schedule an examination as soon as possible.

My veterinarian said that my cat has “resorptive lesions”. What is this and what can I do about it?

Tooth resorption is a common problem in cats. One study estimated that over 1/3 of cats have at least one resorptive lesion. And in cats that have resorptive lesions, they most often have 3 or more teeth affected. Resorptive lesions are painful destruction of the tooth from the inside out. This is similar to cavities in people, except it cannot be treated with a filling. The destruction would continue and the filling would just fall out. Any teeth affected by resorption need to be removed, and the entire mouth needs to be checked by x-rays to make sure no other teeth are developing problems. Unfortunately, we don’t really understand what causes this in cats, so there is no treatment available except removing the teeth that are affected.

Why should I take my pet to someone with advanced training in dentistry, like Dr. Bannon?

Just like human dentistry, there are many fields of veterinary dentistry. In the human dental field, specialties have evolved as offshoots from general dentistry. You may be referred to an endodontist, a periodontist, an orthodontist, or an oral surgeon depending on your own problem. All of these same fields are available are for animals as well. It is not reasonable, or even practical, for all veterinarians to be proficient in all of these areas beyond the basics. If your veterinarian feels, for any reason, that your pet’s oral health problem requires someone with advanced training and knowledge, he or she may refer you to Dr. Bannon.