Do you brush your teeth daily, or even several times a day? Of course, you do! Do you ignore mouth pain until your gums are swollen and bleeding and your teeth are loose? (We sure hope not,) It is equally important to take care of your pets’ teeth and mouths so that their health doesn’t suffer.
The following are some of the consequences of poor dental care for your pets:
Weight loss. Infected gums and tooth pain can result in a reduced appetite and significant weight loss;
Bad breath due to neglected teeth and gums;
Dirty, stained teeth that could be harboring bacteria;
Heart, kidney, and liver disease which can all arise from untreated dental infections;
Premature death. Bad teeth and gums can actually shorten the life expectancy of your pet.
One of the primary causes of these problems is gum disease which sees bacteria-harboring plaque and tartar accumulating on your pets’ teeth. Bacteria can infect the gum tissue causing pain and potential tooth loss. The bacteria can also enter the bloodstream and cause damage to an animal’s internal organs, which, if left untreated, can lead to organ failure and eventually to death.
Poorly cared-for teeth and gums can get painful really quickly. But an owner may not realize it until a pet is in so much pain he or she begins to eat really slow or even refuses to eat much at all. Behavior may also change, and once-friendly companions may become grumpy and downright unfriendly. These are indicators that a pet may be in pain.
Dental prophylaxis, also known as a clean-and-polish, is a routine dental treatment performed on cats and dogs. The actual procedure usually takes around 60 minutes and there is no need for your pet to stay overnight afterward. However, this is considered a surgical procedure, so your pet will be dropped off in the morning and picked up around supper time so that it has plenty of time to recover from anesthesia. While all dental work requires a general anesthetic, the risks are minimal. We can perform a pre-anesthetic screening test if requested or required, especially if your pet is older. Once your cat or dog is under sedation, we perform an oral examination before proceeding to clean and polish the teeth. If any radiographs (x-rays) or extractions are required, we do them at this time.
It is vitally important for you to carry on your pet’s dental care at home. There is a variety of brushing kits available that usually include a finger brush, small pet toothbrush, and special toothpaste. Never use human toothpaste on your pets’ teeth! Human toothpaste is not designed to be swallowed, and animals routinely swallow toothpaste. Make brushing your pets’ teeth an integral part of their daily routine to ensure that you are providing the best preventative care to dental disease possible.
For more information about how to take care of your pet’s teeth at home on a daily basis, check out our blog, How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth & More, to Pet Dental Care: How to Brush Your Pets’ Teeth & More.
Research has shown that dental disease is the single biggest health concern for cats, with around 70% of felines over 3 years old experiencing some form of dental problem. Between 4 and 6 months of age, kittens lose their baby teeth and develop their permanent ones. Once the permanent ones are present your cat should have around 30 teeth. Don’t skip your cat’s yearly check-up when he or she is young because you assume a young cat is going to stay healthy. Some cats suffer early gum disease and require early intervention to keep their mouths and teeth pain-free and healthy.
Some of the symptoms of dental disease in cats include:
Blood in the saliva
Bleeding, red, or swollen gums
Broken or missing teeth
Your dog’s dental care is extremely important. Most adult dogs will have 42 teeth by the time they are 7 or 8 months old. Many dogs show signs of gum disease by the time they are 4 years old because of a lack of proper care. Beginning an oral care routine at a young age can prevent serious long-term problems, particularly in small- and toy breed dogs, who often lose their teeth at young ages.
Symptoms of poor dental or oral health in dogs can include:
Inflamed or red gums
Cysts under the tongue
Tumors in the gum
Particularly bad breath