Dental Disease and Your Pet

Dental Disease and Your Pet
Dr. Shana Schank, DVM
dental disease

Did you know that dental disease is the most common disease of dogs and cats? About 85% of pets have dental disease by three years of age. This condition can lead to severe pain, bone infection, and internal organ disease. Regular home care and professional treatment are the best means of preventing and combating this problem.

Common signs of dental disease include:

Calculus: Calculus is formed when saliva and bacteria attach to the tooth surface and harden. Bacteria lead to infection under the gums and eventually travel to the root of the tooth causing irreversible infection and damage. Large amounts of bacteria that are stored in the mouth can also spread throughout the body causing serious disease.

  • Bad breath (halitosis): Probably the most common sign of periodontal disease. Halitosis is caused by bacteria and decomposing periodontal tissue.
  • Gingivitis: Inflammation or redness of the gums indicates the presence of dental disease. It is important to intervene if gingivitis is present.
  • Loose Teeth: Loose teeth cause significant pain, difficulty eating and often indicate end-stage periodontal disease.

The progression of dental disease can be prevented or slowed by routine home care such as daily tooth brushing, dental chews and dental wipes. It is also important that an oral evaluation is performed by your veterinarian. In general, a professional cleaning under anesthesia is recommended ever year. During this procedure the deeper structures of the mouth are evaluated with a dental probe and often dental X-Rays. All the surfaces of the teeth are then cleaned and smoothed with an ultrasonic scaler. Occasionally extractions or oral surgery will be needed to treat diseased teeth.

The professional cleaning performed at the veterinarian’s office is similar to what a person receives at their dentist and includes pre-anesthetic testing, IV catheter and fluids, anesthesia, monitoring, a comprehensive oral exam under anesthesia with or without X rays, charting and probing, scaling and polishing, possible extractions, and pain management.

*It is important to note that a “non-anesthetic” teeth cleaning is not comparable to the above service. It is not possible to appropriately clean and examine the mouth without general anesthesia.

Please schedule an appointment with your own veterinarian or call us to discuss your pet’s oral
health.