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Does your dog or cat have bad breath to the degree you don't want him or her around? Does he or she eat his or her food carefully? Have you noticed pain or bleeding from the mouth when eating, or a foul smelling yellow-brown crust around the gum line? These signs indicate dental disease, a painful and serious problem that requires veterinary attention. The original cause of most dental problems is plaque, a colorless film that contains a large number of harmful bacteria. Because your pet doesn't brush his teeth like you do, this plaque can cause tartar to develop on the tooth near and under the gum line. The result is swelling, redness and inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), and eventually periodontal disease, which can destroy the gums and tissue that support the teeth.
There are significant risks associated with poor oral health.
• By the age of three 70% of pets show some sign of dental disease.
• Periodontal disease in pets has been associated with liver, kidney and heart disease.
• Periodontal disease in pets can lead to poor general health.
The good news is that dental disease is a preventable and treatable problem in most pets. A complete oral checkup and regular dental cleanings will keep your pet’s teeth in the best of health.
A proper dental cleaning includes the following:
-full oral examination under anesthesia to properly view all the teeth
-a combination of hand scaling and ultrasonic scaling of all exposed tooth surfaces, including tooth surfaces under the gum line to remove plaque and tartar.
-polishing of all tooth surfaces to ensure smooth tooth enamel. Plaque will “grab on” to an uneven surface.
-charting of the mouth which thoroughly documents all teeth and all work performed on the teeth. This also includes measuring “pockets” in-between the gum and the tooth. Deep pockets are a sign of periodontal disease.
-dental x-rays to view the roots of the tooth to rule out infection and determine the health of the tooth.
After proper cleaning, home care is necessary to keep those pearly whites as dazzling and healthy as they can be. Brushing your pet’s teeth is the gold standard of care. This can usually be accomplished with diligence and proper training. Various oral rinses and applications are available also to decrease plaque formation. Even proper diet plays a role in preventing plaque formation. Specially formulated foods are available which can actually clean teeth. For more information, please refer to www.petdental.com, a website sponsored by Hill’s Pet Nutrition and the American Veterinary Dental Society.