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What to Expect if Your Pet Needs Dental Care
Dogs and cats can experience dental disease and tartar build up just like humans. Left unchecked, periodontal disease can lead to systemic disease and is a leading cause of kidney failure and heart disease in our pets. How does a loving pet owner know if dental care is needed?
Examination is the key to diagnosis and helps determine the type of treatment needed. You need to know what to look for. A pet owner can help by examining their pet's teeth and oral cavity at least monthly. First smell your dog or cat's breath. If you sense a disagreeable odor, gum disease may present. Periodontal disease is the most common ailment of small animals. Gum problems begin when bacteria accumulates at the gumline around the tooth. These bacteria can destroy tooth supporting bone, cause bleeding, and if untreated, cause tooth loss. Usually the first sign is bad breath. Other signs you may notice are red swollen gums, tartar (a yellow or brown accumulation on the tooth surface), or loose teeth.
When examining your pet's mouth, look for chips or fractures on the tooth's surface. Contrary to their popularity, chewing on cow hooves, rocks, bones or other hard materials may break teeth. Many times small pieces of enamel chip off, which usually causes no harm. Deeper chips may cause sensitivity in your pet if they are not treated. If the fracture is deep you may notice a red, brown, or black spot in the middle of the tooth's surface. The spot is the pulp or root canal, which may which be open inside the mouth, eventually leading to a tooth abscess.
When your home exam reveals dental problems or if you are still uncertain, a trip to the veterinarian is in order. The veterinary oral examination will begin with a complete visual examination of the face, mouth and each tooth. Frequently pet's mouths have several different problems that need care.
If significant abnormalities are noted at the time of examination then recommendations will be made for correcting the problems. Sedation and anesthesia are essential for an adequate evaluation and teeth cleaning. Anesthesia allows the veterinarian or assistant to thoroughly examine each tooth individually. Modern veterinary medicine offers a wide array of safe and effective anesthetics and monitoring equipment that help with previous concerns of anesthesia.
Expect your veterinarian or dental assistant to use a periodontal probe to measure gum pocket depths around each tooth. One or two millimeters of probe depth normally exists around each tooth. When dogs or cats are affected by periodontal disease, the depths may increase to 10 millimeters or greater. If the probe depth is greater than 8 millimeters, there may be periodontal disease that requires additional care to save the tooth. Unfortunately by the time some pets come in for dental care, it is too late to save all of the teeth. Preventative care and periodic check ups should help hinder the loss of additional teeth. A course of antibiotics is generally recommended after a dental cleaning or procedure to prevent systemic infection and help the oral cavity heal properly.
Dogs and cats do not have to suffer the pain and discomfort of untreated broken or loose teeth or infected gums. With the help of thorough examinations, dental care, and daily brushing, your pet can keep its teeth in its mouth where they should be. (1)
February is national dental month for dogs and cats. In support of increasing awareness for the necessity of dental care and prevention of periodontal disease, Bay Springs Veterinary hospital offers a 15% discount on all dental procedures in February
1. Copyright 2002, Veterinary Information Network, Inc. & Jan Bellows, D.V.M. Dipl. AVDC. All rights reserved.
Lyme disease is the most commonly reported tick-borne disease in the country in humans. Although the incidence of Lyme disease among humans and animals is similar, animals, especially dogs, are at higher risk. Call us today for more information.