Although February is National Dental Health month, we celebrate it throughout the year to make sure we can help as many pets as possible! Let’s start by talking about…
Does my pet need her teeth cleaned?
The short answer is: probably! According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), by just TWO YEARS OLD, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats are developing some form of periodontal disease! It makes sense — we brush our own teeth every day, and dentists still recommend we cleanings twice a year and x-rays annually. Pets age much faster than we do, and yet few of us brush our dogs’ teeth daily, and most cats won’t even let you try.
Dangers of Poor Oral Health
Not keeping your pet’s mouth healthy can cause a lot of problems! Besides bad breath, dental disease can cause bone loss, tooth loss, and pain. Most dogs have a strong drive to eat and will continue to eat despite pain in their mouth! The bacteria that is making your pet’s teeth their home can also get into the bloodstream, where they can end up in the kidney or on heart valves, potentially causing serious problems. In fact, having advanced periodontal disease (disease affecting the tooth, gums, and underlying bone) is like having an open wound the size of your palm!
The picture above shows the different types of fractures we see. “Uncomplicated” means the pulp (the center of the tooth) is not exposed. These types of fractures and enamel fractures may be treatable by sealing the tooth. More common are complicated fractures. Unless you saw/heard it happen and took him to a veterinary dentist right away, these teeth need to be removed to avoid the bacteria in the mouth getting a free ride deep into the jaw.
Cats develop dental disease in a way that is often quite different than dogs. Cats’ immune systems sometimes react more strongly to the bacteria on the teeth, resulting in sometimes severe gingivitis. These cats benefit from a dental cleaning with an added sealant to help protect the gumline from the buildup of bacteria. Sometimes, the cats’ immune system can go into overdrive and start attacking the tooth itself. This is called tooth resorption. Unfortunately, tooth resorption is very painful and can only be treated by removing the affected teeth. They may have other teeth in the future that will go through the same thing. This condition many times is only seen on x-ray, which is why we at Riverstone Animal Hospital perform full mouth x-rays with every dentistry.
Give us a call today to schedule a complimentary brief mouth assessment! We will give your pet a dental grade, which will help us give you an estimate for the procedure.