February 2019 – Pet Dental Disease Prevention
Good pet oral health is more than just a pretty smile! Poor dental hygiene can put your pet’s health at risk. Statistics show that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of periodontal disease by the age of three, and this will only worsen if effective preventive measures aren’t taken. With regular veterinary dental exams, dental and related health problems can be detected before they become more serious.
Most pet dental disease occurs below the gum line where you can’t see it. Left untreated, periodontal disease isn’t just bad for your pet’s teeth; bacteria can actually enter your pet’s bloodstream and cause damage to internal organs, including the heart, liver and kidneys. That’s why regular dental exams by your family veterinarian are so important.
Brushing your pet’s teeth in between professional dental cleanings is one of the most effective ways to maintain dental health. Dental chews are another pleasant way dogs can benefit in between veterinarian visits. However, contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice any of the following warning signs of a dental problem:
- bad breath
- broken or loose teeth
- teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar
- abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth
- reduced appetite or refusal to eat
- pain in or around the mouth
- bleeding from the mouth
- swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth
During routine exams, your veterinarian will grade the health of your pet’s teeth. Once determined a thorough dental cleaning is in order, treatment will include x-rays and administering anesthesia. But rest assured anesthesia is now safer than ever. Any pet that is put under anesthesia at BMAH is thoroughly examined first including bloodwork, and we’ll talk to you about anything we find that could pose a risk for your pet while under anesthesia. Anesthesia keeps your pet from moving around during the procedure, which reduces their risk of injury, and the pet feels no discomfort during the procedure.
Grade 4 Pet Dental Disease
Once under anesthesia, your pet is monitored constantly by a trained technician, and that technician stays with your pet and makes sure that they safely and smoothly recover from anesthesia with no complications. Anesthesia is an absolute necessity for dental cleanings, and dental cleanings cannot be done properly without it. Anesthesia allows us to do a thorough exam and digital X-rays of your pet’s teeth and roots so that no problem is missed. Anesthesia keeps your pet safe from being harmed or scared. It allows the hygienist to properly remove tartar and ultrasonically clean deep enough under the gum line to flush out bacteria on bone and reverse disease. We also polish their teeth, and they go home the same day with a fresh, pain-free mouth.
And remember, older pets need more dental care, not less. Senior pets greater than 7 years of age are at a much higher risk for developing painful mouth conditions. As pets age, they also develop many genetic chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease. Their organs and systems can still continue to function if we are proactive in keeping them as far away from dental infection as possible.
The American Veterinary Medical Association provides informative videos on dental care and education. Take a moment to review and learn more:
AVMA Video: Periodontal Disease
AVMA Video: How to Brush Your Pet’s Teeth
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