Celebrate Pet Dental month in your Vail Valley Pets
It’s February and the weather is COLD outside, and of course you may be thinking more about how you will get to work or school today rather than the condition of your pet’s teeth, but little did you know but February is National Pet Dental Health month!
At the beginning of each year, we are all thinking of our own medical and dental appointments, but it is easy to forget that our pet’s need routine dental care as well!
Like humans, our pets are prone to many types of dental disease, and often times, until clinical signs emerge, such as a pet has stopped eating, is salivating heavily, or has a strong mouth odor, the pet may go extended periods of time in pain and have deep seated infection in the mouth without the owner’s knowledge! The oral cavity of a pet has an active blood supply which quickly allows dangerous bacteria to spread to internal organs resulting in systemic disease processes.
As veterinarians, it is our job to increase pet owner awareness of types and recognition of dental issues in pets and encourage routine oral examinations.
There are many types of “pathology” that can be detected during your pet’s annual dental examination. Types of pathology include:
Painful Periodontal disease: Did you know that because pet’s don’t routinely “brush” their teeth, that periodontal disease sets in as early as 3 years of age in pets?
When bacteria in the mouth combine with bacteria and attach to the tooth as “plaque” , the plaque and “calculus” begin to grow under the gum line and cause damage to the supporting structures of the tooth and eventually result in subgingival infections and tooth loss!
Broken, Cracked or diseased teeth:. Fractured teeth can be full thickness cuts thru the center of the tooth , or even just damage to the enamel of the tooth. Unfortunately, any damage to the tooth results in making the underlying root vulnerable to infection and eventual pain and loss of the neighboring bone. With new advances in dental diagnositcs for pets, these broken teeth no longer go undetected and if caught early can be repaired !
Abscessed teeth: These teeth will often be discovered because they are discolored, or have mobility. These teeth can be very painful for your pet and should be removed surgically.
“Resorbtive” lesions are the more common pathology found on dental examinations of cats. These are “holes” which often develop at the gumline and result in subgingival infections, pain and eventual loss of the tooth in cats. Just be merely touching the gum of a cat with a resorbptive lesion, and owner can quickly detect the pet is in significant pain!
“Oral Cancers” as well as “benign” tumors are also discovered during dental examinations. Early detection and staging of these tumors give a better chance of
Giving your pet a more positive outcome.
Upon dental examination. Your veterinarian will carefully chart any problem areas found in your pet’s mouth and may suggest a dental prophy cleaning . During the cleaning, a more indepth examination can be made while your pet is carefully sedated, to assure no dangerous bacteria or plaque particles enter the respiratory system. It is during this more indepth exam, we are able to continue to evaluate further for “pockets indicating degree of periodontal disease,” “mobility,” “resorbtive lesions,” “fractured teeth,” and “ oral cancers.”
In recent years, veterinary medicine has followed it’s human counterpart with dental radiography. It is impossible, as we all know, to assess disease below the gumline in pets with just the human eye. Dental radiography has helped discover innumerable types of pathology in pet’s mouths that would otherwise have gone undetected!
So this February, take charge of your pet’s dental care! Get an appointment with your regular veterinarian and start your pet’s year out being proactive about dental health!