February is National Pet Dental Health Month
At Gamble Pet Clinic every month is Pet Dental month. We know that good oral care is very important to the overall health and comfort of our four-legged friends. The benefits of a healthy mouth go far beyond a beautiful smile and sweet smelling breath. Keeping the teeth clean with gums free of inflammation (gingivitis) decreases the spread of bacteria to the heart, kidneys, and liver thus helping to prevent damage to these vital organs. Maintaining a healthy and pain-free mouth is one of the most important and often one of the easiest preventative health care benefits we can provide our pets.
Providing a combination of at-home dental care (tooth brushing, dental chews, water additives) and regular professional dental cleanings under anesthesia can maintain a healthy and pain-free mouth and minimize the impact of dental disease.
The best plaque prevention is to brush your pet’s teeth daily with a soft bristle tooth brush and a pet safe toothpaste. If that is not possible, there are chews, gels, oral rinses, and water additives that can aid in the prevention of plaque or mechanically remove plaque and tartar.
For a video demonstration on how to brush your dog or cat’s teeth go to www.dvm360.com/brush.
The following website has a list of foods, treats, and chews that have received the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of approval. www.VOHC.org
There are some items that we should avoid giving to our pets either because they can fracture teeth or harbor food borne disease.
Following is a list of some of these items:
- pig ears
- cow hooves
- raw or cooked bones
- bully sticks
- hard plastic toy
Pets are very good at hiding pain, including oral pain, so it is also very important to schedule your pet for regular professional dental care with anesthesia. This allows a full oral exam to be performed with a tooth by tooth assessment including dental radiographs. Dental radiographs are very important to performing a thorough oral exam as 60 % of the tooth is below the gum line and can only be examined by a radiograph (x-ray). At Gamble Pet Clinic we have a digital dental radiograph system which allows us to get high quality pictures of what is going on under the gum line in seconds. We are able to diagnose and treat oral disease much more efficiently and effectively with this system.
Problems that need radiographs to properly assess them are:
- fractured teeth
- feline resorptive lesions which are progressive and can be painful
- periodontal disease with bone loss
- oral masses
Read more about two patients that we recently treated where dental radiographs were necessary to determine exactly what was going on, which then allowed the proper treatment to be undertaken.
Patient One: A ten year old dog with a fractured crown of a canine tooth.
On visual exam, the canine tooth crown had been broken and there was a small black spot in the center that was consistent with dentin. On visual inspection alone, the tooth did not appear to have been damaged other than cosmetically. After taking a radiograph of the fractured canine tooth and comparing it to the normal canine tooth on the other side of the mouth, it was apparent that the pulp of the fractured tooth had been irreversibly damaged and the tooth was dead. With this knowledge the pet owner was informed that treatment of the dead tooth needed to be undertaken. They had the option of having a root canal performed which would allow the tooth to remain in the mouth as a functional tooth, or the tooth could be extracted.
Without the radiograph, this tooth would not have been treated. Without treatment, bacteria from the mouth infect the pulp of the tooth causing pain and infection, as well as the bacteria spread from this dead tooth to vital organs of the body and cause disease.
Patient Two: A young adult cat was recently adopted and on his initial exam, he would not allow an oral exam to be performed. He was anesthetized and a thorough oral exam was performed and full mouth dental radiographs were taken. Radiographs revealed three canine teeth that had severe periodontal disease with infection surrounding the roots, a root fragment from a molar tooth that appeared to be missing was found, and another molar tooth was undergoing resorption. All of these problems were addressed. The cat is now pain free and doing great.
At Gamble Pet Clinic we want to prevent oral pain and disease. We want our four-legged friends to have the beautiful smile they deserve. Please contact us for information on how to provide at-home dental care and to schedule your pet for an oral exam to determine if it is time for a professional dental treatment.