Dental care is vital to the overall health of any pet. Dental disease can lead to health issues with the heart, liver, and kidneys, and can affect the entire body through the bloodstream. In fact, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats over three years of age suffer from some form of dental disease, making it the most common pet health issue among our pet population.
In spite of these disturbing facts, many pet owners are not aware of the importance of dental care to their pet’s health. There are a lot of different ways to improve your pet’s dental hygiene, including brushing teeth, dental chews, and regular veterinary examinations. Oravet dental chews can be purchased in our office or through our website online home delivery store.
The most effective way to protect your pet from dental disease is through professional cleanings. We perform thorough cleanings, including the area beneath the gums that you can’t see or access at home. It makes no sense to treat dental disease by removing teeth; it makes complete sense to prevent tooth loss early through preventive care!
Prevent Tooth Loss Early:
Plaque and Tartar: Proliferating bacteria, food particles and saliva accumulate at the gum line, forming a slimy substance called plaque on the teeth. Plaque is the perfect growth medium for bacteria. If plaque is not removed, it mineralizes and hardens into tarter which is very hard to remove. Tartar encourages bacterial growth, and bacteria eventually invade the sculls, the crevice between the gingiva and the tooth’s root. The gingiva regresses, and as periodontal structures detach from the root, periodontal pockets form. These pockets may be 4 mm to 8 mm deep, weakening the tooth’s support and exposing its roots. Finally, the tooth loosens and falls out.
Over time, plaque and tartar build-up can lead to inflammation of the gums around the dog’s teeth, also known as gingivitis.
Halitosis, or bad breath, is often the first sign that an animal has periodontal disease. Because halitosis is common, this sign of disease often causes no concern to owners. In fact, halitosis associated with early gingivitis is so common that many owners don’t recognize their dog’s bad breath as abnormal.
Periodontal disease, which includes gingivitis and periodontitis, is an inflammation and/or infection of the gums and bone around dog’s teeth. It’s caused by bacteria that accumulate in the mouth, forming soft plaque that later hardens into tartar. If untreated, periodontal disease can eventually lead to the destruction of gum and bone and other tissues around the dog’s teeth. In most severe cases, periodontitis can ultimately lead to loss of teeth, fracture of the jawbones.
Where does your pet score on the Dental Report Card?
Signs of dental disease include:
- Brown/yellow teeth
- Bad breath
- Difficulty eating
- Chews on toys and the gums bleed
- Appears irritated or grumpy; doesn’t want to play
- Hides more often than normal
What Will My Pet Experience During a Dental Procedure?
It is important to understand the pet experience when performing a dental prophy. First and foremost, all patients undergo anesthesia. There is no such thing as risk-free anesthesia, however we make it our priority to keep that risk as low as possible. We develop an individual anesthetic and pain plan for each of our patients. This will typically include a premedication to help relax your pet before the procedure, as well as a smooth induction into general anesthesia. All dental patients receive an IV catheter and fluids to support their blood pressure and internal organs, while under anesthesia.
Our technicians will scale the teeth, removing any excess plaque and tarter (similar to your experience at your dentist). Next, they will scale under the gum line. Often plaque and tarter build up under the gum line causing pain and discomfort (it is extremely important to remove this debris while under anesthesia!). Our technicians will measure pockets around each tooth – which helps Dr. Gordzelik determine if a tooth needs to be extracted. Once all tarter and unhealthy teeth have been removed, the remaining teeth are polished and the mouth is flushed clean. The patient is then given additional pain medication if needed, and the anesthesia is discontinued. A technician stays with the patient and continues to monitor all vital signs until he or she is fully recovered.