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Posted on 01-31-2013

Does your dog’s or cat’s breath stink? Do they have loose teeth or teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar? Do they shy away from you when you touch the mouth area? Are they drooling or dropping food from the mouth, or bleeding from the mouth? Does your cat sneeze, or vomit his food up un-chewed? These are all signs that your pet may be suffering from one of the most common problems of domestic pets, dental disease. According to some estimates, 85% of domestic pets have some level of periodontal disease.

Periodontal diseases are a group of diseases that affect the tissues that support and anchor the teeth. Left untreated, periodontal disease results in the destruction of the gums, alveolar bone (the part of the jaws where the teeth arise), and the outer layer of the tooth root. This can become painful and contribute to problems in other organs in the body such as kidneys and heart. Periodontal disease is easily prevented with routine dental care, comprising both home care as well as cleaning and polishing under anesthesia.

Why is anesthesia necessary to clean my pets teeth? The latest fad in veterinary medicine is anesthesia-free dentistry. Unfortunately, this only gives owners a false sense of security. Anesthesia-free dentistry removes large areas of plaque and tartar from the outer surface of the tooth, but rarely addresses the issues under the gums where the real problems lie. It is very difficult to properly evaluate teeth and clean under the gums of an awake animal. It is also impossible to take a good dental radiograph (X-ray) on an awake pet. At Green Oaks North Pet Hospital we take precautions to prevent anesthetic complications. All of our patients undergo screening prior to anesthesia to evaluate their individual risk. Anesthetic drugs are tailored to the individual patient. All pets have an IV catheter and receive IV fluids to help support their blood pressure and kidney function. We monitor heart rate, ECG, Blood pressure, Temperature and respiration. For more info on appropriate dental exams click here.

At Green Oaks North Pet Hospital, we have the ability to take digital dental radiographs (X-rays). Why is this important to your pet? It allows us to see under the gums to evaluate what is going on with the other 2/3rds of the tooth that can't be seen with the naked eye. With radiographs we often find abscessed teeth, fractured teeth, un-erupted baby teeth, and cavities. It is very common in cats to see resorptive lesions where the tooth looks completely normal with the eye, but the radiograph reveals significantly diseased teeth.


                   Mouth of cat                                                                                Arrow points to resorptive lesion

So what can you do to prevent periodontal disease in your dog? Just like for you and me, the best way to prevent dental disease is good oral hygiene, beginning with brushing the teeth. For a demonstration on how to teach your pet watch this video. Not all pets will allow brushing, and not all people are willing to do it. If you are in this category it is important to know that brushing is still the best way, but there are other things that can be done that are almost as good. Dentacetic wipes are enzymatic wipes that can be used to remove the plaque off of teeth and help to kill some of the bacteria in the mouth. At most stores that carry pet products, you can find a plethora of “dental products” and it is hard to determine which one is right for your pet. A group of Veterinary Dentists has put together an organization to help you determine which ones to use. The Veterinary Oral Health Cancel, VOHC, exists to recognize products that meet pre-set standards of plaque and calculus (tartar) retardation in dogs and cats. By doing this, these products will decrease your pets risk of periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is one of the most common diseases affecting pets. But with routine dental cleanings, visual and radiographic exams under anesthesia and proper home care, your pets suffering can be greatly decreased. If you have questions or want to get your pets teeth looked at contact us at Green Oaks North Pet Hospital.

For more info on Veterinary Dentistry check out these links.

The Pet Dentist


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