Open wide! February is National Pet Dental Health Month! Did you know that your pet’s smelly breath could be a sign of a more serious problem? Not only can poor oral health damage the teeth and gums, but it can cause issues with the internal organs of our furry friends as well.
Periodontal disease is the most common dental condition found in dogs and cats. Early detection is important, just like in any medical condition. Progression of periodontal disease can cause other problems and pain for your pets. In addition to affecting the mouth, teeth, and gums of your dog and cat, periodontal disease can also affect the kidney, liver, and heart.
Keeping your pet’s teeth clean is a high priority. Most oral diseases start forming when plaque hardens and becomes tartar. Tartar above the gum line can typically be seen and removed with basic tooth brushing. Tartar below the gum line can damage the tooth and gums. When plaque and tartar builds up too much, a simple tooth brushing may not do the trick. This can lead to infection or damage to the jawbone and connecting tissues.
When pets have periodontal disease or other dental problems, it is important to get it taken care of by your vet. There are varying levels of severity when it comes to periodontal disease and cleaning your pets’ teeth.
- Level 1: visible tartar build up and slight swelling and redness of gums.
- Level 2: gums are more swollen and X-rays may be needed to determine if there is any slight bone loss around teeth.
- Level 3: looks about the same as Level 2, however X-rays will show more severe bone loss.
- Level 4: most severe level; high rate of tartar, receded gums, tooth damage, and bone loss.
If a dental cleaning is recommended for your pet, anesthesia is required. Pets do not understand the importance of cleaning teeth and if they are uncomfortable, they may have the desire to bite or move around. With anesthesia, there is a reduced risk of other injury to your pet and the veterinarian. A technician is by your pet’s side throughout the surgery to monitor their health. Preanesthetic bloodwork and medications to go home with your pet are included in our surgery and dental packages to ensure that your pet is comfortable and healthy before, during, and after the cleaning.
Your veterinarian should check your pet’s teeth at least once a year. Schedule an appointment earlier if you notice: bad breath, broken or loose teeth, tooth discoloration, abnormal chewing or drooling, reduced appetite or refusal to eat, bleeding or swelling in or around the mouth.
If possible, brushing your pet’s teeth is always a good idea. In addition, there are products you can purchase that will help keep your pet’s teeth in good condition. Hill’s, Henry Schein, and Virbac all sell products that are designed for dental health (and you can come purchase them in the clinic!)
- Chlorhexidine Rinse: this product is typically used after your pet eats a meal (unless otherwise stated by your veterinarian). It is placed along the gum line in the animal’s mouth. The rinse rapidly covers the whole oral cavity to help give your pet fresh breath and a clean mouth.
- Butler Schein Enzy Chews: using your dog’s natural ability to chew, these tasty ‘treats’ can be given every day to help combat dental disease. They come in varying sizes based on your dog’s size. These are good if your dog isn’t a fan of toothbrushing!
- Hill’s Prescription Diet T/D Food: this particular type of food is normally prescribed after a pet’s dental cleaning to help prevent future plaque and tartar build up. It is specially formulated to clean the tooth’s surface and fight bad breath germs. This food is available for cats and in 2 different kibble sizes for dogs.
If you think your pet may be in need of a dental cleaning, give us a call and set up an appointment to see a doctor today! Always feel free to give us a call at (214) 328-9935 if you have any questions or concerns about your pets’ health.