Pet Dental Health
One of the most prevalent diseases found in dogs and cats is not what most people expect. Most owners are concerned about things such as cancer or kidney disease or diabetes. But it turns out that dental disease is more common than those diseases in our furry friends.. And it is not just the mouth that is affected by this insidious disease, but the whole body.
Studies show that by three years of age 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form or oral disease. Gingivitis or inflammation of the gums is the most common condition found in younger animals. But this inflammation, when left untreated progresses to more severe conditions, including periodontitis (inflammation in the tissues surrounding the tooth), tooth fractures, tooth abscesses, bone and tissue loss and eventually tooth death and loss. This progression of disease can be a very painful process and cause problems in other parts of the body.
Dental infections can cause consequences in the mouth and head of the dog. Oronasal fistulas are infections that cause such severe damage to the oral cavity that a communication between the mouth and the nasal sinuses occurs. This causes nasal discharge and congestion along with other respiratory issues. Bacteria from the teeth and gums can infect the bone of the jaw and cause a serious infection called osteomyelitis. This infection sometimes requires that the infected piece of jaw be surgically removed. Bone loss and infection from the bacteria in the mouth can weaken the bones of the jaw so much that they fracture causing severe pain and disability. Infections of the teeth can also extend to the eye causing pain and swelling of the orbit of the eye. All these are in addition to the loss of the teeth themselves.
If this isn’t scary enough, dental infections do not stay located in the mouth and head, they can travel throughout the body wreaking havoc on other body systems. Inflammation in the gums allows the bacteria in the mouth to enter the bloodstream and travel to other organs, including the kidney, liver and heart.
But the good news is that dental disease is preventable with good dental home care and regular professional dental procedures. Dog and cat teeth need care similar to that which you give to your teeth. Daily home care is essential. There are several options available. It is important that you choose one that you can do and that your pet is amenable to. Some options to consider are: brushing, water additives, dental gels, dental chews and dental foods. Try different options as see what fits best into yours and your pets lifestyle.
The second part of dental care is regular professional exams and cleanings. Everytime your pet gets an exam with a veterinarian, their teeth and gums should be looked at to determine the need for professional care. A professional dental procedure is very similar to what you go through when you go to the dentist. The veterinary dentist will do an in depth oral exam, looking at the teeth, gums, tongue, tonsils and palate. They will clean and scale the teeth and polish them. Full mouth radiographs will be taken as 30-70% of all dental problems are below the gumline and not visible without x-rays. The biggest difference is that our pets will not hold their mouths open for the exam, cleaning and radiographs, so they do need to be under anesthesia for the dental procedure to take place.
Learning about the importance of dental health and incorporating it into your pets daily life will lead to your pet living a happy, healthy, pain free life as long as possible. Make your pets appointment to get their oral exam today.