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Let’s Put a Spotlight on teeth:
As you may know, teeth are extremely important to our overall health; and this applies to our pets too! Just like us, pets need dental care. About 3/5 dogs and cats over the age of 2 years have dental disease. That’s a HUGE amount! So how can we improve this?
The first step is bringing your furry friend in for regular exams. We recommend annually until 7 years of age, and then twice a year for our “mature” pets over the age of 7. At every visit we evaluate all of your pet’s body systems, including those pearly whites!
During a dental exam we will often find GINGIVITIS (which is swelling of the gums). This is usually the culprit for bad breath! Sometimes we find diseased, painful teeth as well. This initial assessment allows us to determine next steps; perhaps Fluffy needs a cleaning and polishing (just like we get at our human dentist clinic!) or we may need to actually extract teeth if they are causing pain or disease.
So, what goes into a dental procedure?
The only difference in fact, between us going to the dentist for a cleaning and our pets having a cleaning done, is that my patients won’t sit on a chair and say AHH! Our pets need to be under anesthesia for their cleaning, which is the safest and best way to monitor them during the procedure.
By looking at your pet’s mouth in the exam room, we are only seeing half of the full tooth; the rest is hidden under the gumline! That’s why we ALWAYS take x rays of the mouth once your pet is under anesthesia, so we can see what’s going on under the gums too. (Remember having this done at the dentist as well? It’s exactly the same equipment!)
Finally, once x rays are taken, the vet will determine whether or not your pet just needs a cleaning, or whether any teeth also need to be removed. All the teeth are cleaned and polished. They will have dissolvable stitches in their mouth if any teeth are extracted, and will go home on pain medication for several days to keep them comfortable. (We always encourage you to come in for a free recheck exam just to make sure everything is healing well.)
This is where YOU come into the equation. Once the teeth are pearly white, that’s when we need daily oral care at home to maintain those teeth. After all, we want to preserve as many teeth as possible! I’d love it if I never had to extract teeth, but often this is not the case. We will go over slowly training pets to accept brushing, so that those teeth remain beautiful and pain-free. There are even special dental diets formulated to help reduce tartar; and they work!
Most pets will require a few cleanings in their lifetime. Has your pet had a dental cleaning within the last few years? Talk to us if you have any concerns, or if you want your friend evaluated!