DENTISTRY FOR YOUR PET
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All of us know about the benefits of routine dental care for ourselves. Daily brushing and flossing, and regular visits to the dentist, keep our teeth and gums healthy and comfortable. Unfortunately, routine dental care is still an often neglected item of dog and cat general health care. Your pets, as well as yourselves, deserve regular dental care.
After your pet reaches a few years of age, plaque begins to build up at the junction of the gums and teeth. With time this plaque hardens into tarter. If this tartar is not removed, it increases causing inflammation to the adjacent gum or gingivitis, that can result in loss of gum tissue. This allows bacteria to come into contact with the underlying tissues and eventual destruction of bone. We call this process periodontal disease. If this situation is not soon remedied, severe gum infections, abscessed teeth and cheek ulcers and eventually loss of the tooth will occur. You may become aware of this problem by noting that your dog has a bad odor to his or her breath, is not eating food as well as previously, or is experiencing weight loss.
Chronic infections of the teeth and gums can also result in problems elsewhere in the body.
Bacteria enter the bloodstream from infected gum tissue and can cause infection in organs such as the liver, the kidneys, the heart and the joints. Good dental care lengthens pets’ lives an average of 10 – 20% through the prevention of these secondary problems.
Miniature and toy breads of dogs exhibit dental problems more frequently and much earlier in life than do the larger breads. As a result of mouth pain dogs may stop eating and show weight loss and nutritional disturbances.
You can help prevent dental problems in your pets by feeding a dry dog food. Daily or even weekly brushing of your dog’s teeth with a toothpaste made for pets will also help prevent tartar buildup. Dog treats, rawhide chew toys and some especially designed rubber toys are all on the market to assist in this as well. A new dental vaccine is now available for dogs.
Just as with people your dog will still require regular dental exams and cleanings (prophylaxis).
Under general anesthesia the teeth are examined and probed for gum loss and pockets. Dental radiographs of individual teeth or the entire mouth may be required to further assess the degree of periodontal disease. The teeth are cleaned of tartar by use of an ultrasonic dental scaler (uses water and rapid sound waves) much like the one your own dentist uses, and then the teeth are polished. Polishing smoothes the surface of the teeth to help discourage future tartar formation. Your pet will also receive an antibacterial rinse.
Other more advanced procedures such as root canal work, restorations and even braces are also available should your dog ever need them by Board Certified Veterinary Dentists. We encourage you to be concerned about your pet’s oral health, and to keep in mind the availability of effective treatments for dental problems in your dog. Make dentistry apart of your pet’s total health care plan, for a longer and happier life.