February is National Pet Dental Awareness month! At Anacapa Animal Hospital our veterinarians educate pet owners on the importance of dental care year round!
Did you know that periodontal disease is the #1 problem veterinarians see in dogs and cats? According to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have periodontal disease by the age of THREE! Alarming isn’t it! There are only a few things that we can have nearly complete control over in regard to our pet’s health. One of those things is dental health, which is EXTREMELY important for our pets’ overall wellness.
Those ugly brown or green teeth and bad breath are an incredible annoyance to us, but they are a source of pain and disease for our pets. Dogs and cats teeth have exactly the same anatomy and structure as our teeth, they’re just shaped differently. That means they get toothaches just like we do!
Imagine how you would feel if your teeth and mouth had the same level of disease as some pets. I can hardly go an entire day without brushing my teeth – imagine waiting 2 years. The signs of dental problems (such as staining and tarter) that you see on the crown of the tooth are often just the tip of the iceberg. Infected teeth can lead to root abscesses that are very painful.
Dental disease begins with the formation of tartar or calculus. Bacteria and saliva create a slimy film over the teeth that over time (weeks to a month) solidifies and quickly turns into tartar. This calcified matrix of bacteria attaches to the teeth and causes irritation at the gum line. Eventually, inflammation of the gums leads to recession of the gum line exposing the attachments of the tooth. The bony tissue surrounding the tooth begins to break down and the loose and/or infected tooth becomes extremely painful.
Those nasty looking and smelling teeth can also be a source of serious internal diseases. When the teeth are diseased, the gums become inflamed and swollen. Those swollen gums tend to bleed and all the bacteria on the teeth can enter the blood stream. Once the bacteria are in the blood stream, they can cause serious problems in the kidneys, urinary bladder, liver, heart, and other organs.
Another source of pain and potential infection is broken teeth. Broken teeth often expose the living pulp of the tooth. Anyone who has had a cracked or broken tooth can attest to just how painful this is. Teeth with pulp exposure should have a root canal done to close off the access to the root tip or have the tooth extracted to remove the source of pain and to prevent or treat the inevitable abscess from occurring.
Dogs and cats are instinctively experts at hiding their pain and discomfort. Dull, aching and slowly developing pain, such as dental pain, often goes undetected in our pets. I’ll often see a pet that seems to have no problems at home, but when I see her for her exam, she has serious dental problems. When we treat all the dental problems, she will actually act years younger and is obviously relieved and happy. The owners simply thought that she was slowing down and less interactive simply because she was getting older. It turns out she just had a bad toothache and didn’t know how to tell anyone!
Because we routinely see dental disease in the clinic, we want to bring attention to this frequently hidden issue. Our pets deserve to have a life free of pain and to be given routine wellness care to prevent common diseases. Look at dental care like a vaccine against infection in the mouth, pain and premature aging. Given the opportunity, the veterinary staff at Anacapa Animal Hospital can not only make your pet’s breath better, but we can prolong and add quality to your pet’s life, just by helping you take better care of their teeth.
After every dental we will outline several things that can be done at home to prolong the time between professional cleanings. While brushing their teeth is still the best option for prevention there are many alternatives available to meet your lifestyle and busy schedules. This may include a diet that decreases tartar from attaching to the teeth, oral rinses and chews to decrease the bacterial count in the mouth or a special magnetically charged wax applied to the teeth regularly to prevent tartar from forming. Flip the lip of your pet and take a look for yourself!
OUR GOAL — PREVENTION! — PREVENTION! — PREVENTION!
Your Dog and Dental Disease:
- Dental Disease in Dogs
- Dental Cleaning in Dogs
- The importance of Dental x-rays in Dogs
- Anesthesia-Free Dentistry: Know the Facts