Does your pet need a dental checkup? The answer is most likely yes! According to the American Veterinary Dental Society 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of dental disease. Routine dental cleanings are just as important as regular physical exams. February is National Pet Dental Health Month and the perfect time to have your pet’s teeth assessed. Early detection of dental disease is key!
Your Pet's Teeth
Dental health is an important part of your pet’s overall health. Compromised dental health can affect your pet’s longevity and quality of life. Untreated dental disease can lead to other problems such as liver disease, kidney disease and heart complications. Did you know that certain breeds of dogs have a higher incidence of dental disease? These include yorkie’s, poodles, dachshunds, pugs and other brachycephalic breeds.
Look for signs of dental disease at home:
-bad odor -red, inflamed gums
-broken or loose teeth -trouble chewing
-discolored teeth/tartar buildup -excessive drooling
Professional Dental Procedures
Dental exams should be preformed by your veterinarian at least once per year. During the oral exam your veterinarian will check for broken or missing teeth, periodontal disease, infection, tumors and other defects. After the exam your vet will make recommendations based on the specific findings. Dental cleanings are anesthetic procedures. Anesthesia is used so the pet feels no discomfort and to avoid moving, biting and escaping. During the dental procedure radiographs may be needed to completely evaluate the tooth roots and bones. Periodontal disease is the most common dental condition in dogs and cats. Periodontal disease is graded on a scale of 0 (normal) to 4 (severe). During the procedure the teeth will also be cleaned using an ultrasonic scaler. The ultrasonic scaler is used to remove built up plaque and tartar on the surface of the teeth and just below the gum line. Finally, the teeth will be polished.
After your pet has had a professional dental cleaning there are things you can do at home to prevent dental disease. These include regular brushing, dental treats and dental diets.