Though most pet owners are responsible caregivers and are very attentive to the health and welfare of their pets, one of the areas that is most often overlooked is pet dental care. In fact, periodontal disease affects 80% of dogs and 70% of cats over the age of 3. Symptoms of periodontal disease may include:
Loose or missing teeth
Mouth and gums sensitive to touch
There are four stages of periodontal disease, and each stage is indicated by the amount of damage done to the teeth’s supporting structures. If left untreated, this disease can cause tooth loss and even multi-systemic disease.
Each time you bring your pet in for a wellness exam, our veterinarians will carefully check his or her teeth, mouth, and gums. If your pet’s mouth is healthy, we will discuss at-home care to help ensure it stays that way. This includes feeding your pet a nutritious diet and brushing his or her teeth. We will be happy to demonstrate proper technique and provide you with pet-palatable toothpaste and appropriate toothbrush. If your pet is showing signs of periodontal disease, our veterinarians will recommend a dental cleaning. When the disease is caught early, the procedure is much less invasive. Once it reaches a later phase, the disease has already compromised the affected teeth’s supporting structures. In these cases, a much more intensive cleaning is required, and, sometimes, dental surgery or extractions may also be necessary.
Professional Pet Dental Cleanings
Because pets will not voluntarily open their mouths and withstand probing, scaling, and polishing of their teeth, they require general anesthesia prior to having a dental cleaning. Because of this, typically, we require a pre-dental health screen which includes bloodwork to ensure that your pet can tolerate anesthesia and that they do not have any other underlying illnesses. By using general anesthesia, we can adequately visualize all of the tooth surfaces, evaluate the gum lines, examine the entire oral cavity for evidence of other pathology (like tumors), and perform any extractions if necessary. Because of the risk of systemic disease with advanced periodontal disease, a post therapy antibiotic regimen is usually prescribed. Of course, annual professional dental cleanings do not replace a thorough preventive dental plan whose primary focus is daily tooth brushing and eating a balanced, nutritious diet. Our veterinarians can help you create an ongoing routine at home.