When you get home this evening and are greeted by your four legged bundle of joy, take a second to actually lift a lip and look inside. You might be surprised at what you see! Your pet’s teeth are an important clue to overall health and shouldn’t be ignored. Dental disease can lead to pain, bad breath, and damage to internal organs. There are many ways to improve pet dental health, and you should really talk to your veterinarian to set up a plan.
At least 85% of pets over 3 years old have periodontal disease and need professional pet dental health care to control it. Cleaning must be done under anesthesia to be effective and thorough, and you should be sure your veterinarian is committed to high quality care. Safe anesthesia requires extra precautions such as IV fluids, monitoring equipment, and heating blankets to maintain body temperature.
Another requirement is dental x-ray capability. There is simply no way to know how extensive dental disease is without taking radiographs to assess the teeth roots. If any extractions are necessary, the only way to be sure all root remnants are removed is with x-ray. You would never expect a doctor to fix a broken bone without x-rays, and the same holds for diseased teeth! Be sure to ask your veterinarian if she/he has advanced monitoring for anesthesia and dental x-rays. It’s an important aspect of pet dental health care.
So, when you get home, take a look at your pet’s mouth. If there is gum redness and a bad odor, chances are high that there is dental disease. Don’t put off care of this chronic painful problem! The sooner this is addressed, the happier you and your pet will be.
Dr. Brown has been practicing companion veterinary medicine for 29 years with a strong interest in dentistry. She opened Health Care for Pets Hospital in December of 2008. For more information, visit www.healthcareforpets.net.
Photo Caption: X-ray of dog’s broken jaw due to severe dental disease.