Why we should care about dental disease:
Nearly 85% of all dogs and cats over two years of age have some degree of dental disease. Dental disease varies from mild tarter accumulation to advanced periodontal disease. Gingivitis (red, inflamed, painful gums), gum recession, abscessed (infected) teeth and gums and tooth loss may result as dental disease progresses. In addition, dental disease may lead to other serious problems. Bacteria found in abundance on tartaric teeth may spread through the blood and result in liver, kidney, or heart infections.
People may ask “why should we treat dental disease now when we never used to and our pets seemed to live a long life?” The answer is simple! Advances in veterinary medicine, such as good preventative dental care, are adding quality years to the lives of our pets. We once considered a 10 year old dog or cat to be “old.” Now they are just senior pets. “Old” dogs and cats are now reaching 15-20 years of age.
What YOU can do to prevent oral disease:
Your pet’s teeth and gums require routine maintenance in order to stay healthy. Tooth brushing helps to prevent bad breath, dental disease and poor health. A routine of home dental care on your puppy or kitten helps to condition them early in life to this important procedure. Specially flavored toothpastes, rinses, and gels are available. A soft bristled child’s toothbrush, a specially designed finger brush, or gauze sponges may be used to brush your pet’s teeth. We will gladly demonstrate the use of these products!
Chewing on appropriate items such as rawhide, hard rubber chews, or nylon chews is enjoyable to most dogs and is helpful in maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Enzymatic, plaque removing chew treats are also available for cats and dogs. Finally, some diets help reduce plaque formation.
What WE can do to prevent & treat oral (periodontal) disease:
Once tarter has accumulated on your pet’s teeth, professional cleaning becomes necessary. Professional cleaning requires the use of general anesthesia to do a thorough job. The most important aspect of cleaning is to scale the portion of the tooth you can’t see below the gum line. Tarter accumulation begins in pockets beneath the gum line. Once scaling is complete, polishing the teeth follows. Some teeth may have such heavy tarter build-up that we cannot evaluate the tooth until it has been cleaned. Extractions of some teeth may be necessary due to abscessed roots or erosions of the enamel that extend into the pulp cavity that house the nerve and blood vessels for the teeth. Tooth extractions will not discourage your pet from eating. On the contrary, your pet will enjoy easier, pain free eating once the diseased teeth have been removed.
A yearly comprehensive physical exam and dental cleaning are important to help ensure your pet’s continued health. Quality years are being added to the lives of our pets through advances in veterinary medicine and dental care.