Sleuth the Reporter Dog knows that he needs to take care of his teeth, but, sadly, many of Sleuth’s friends never get the dental care they need. Along with the Veterinary News Network, Sleuth put together this check list of dental care for dogs and even cats!
1) Just like their owners, our dogs and cats suffer from dental disease. But, because our pets don’t often show their discomfort, many people don’t realize how painful this condition can be.
2) How do you know if your pet has dental disease? It’s easy…just “flip the lip” and look for brown or yellow discolorations on the teeth, especially the ones in the back! Also, smell your pet’s breath. It might not be minty fresh, but it shouldn’t smell foul!
3) A complete veterinary dental assessment, treatment and prevention program starts with a good oral exam from your veterinarian. This should be done under general anesthesia so that all parts of the mouth can be evaluated.
4) Next, ultrasonic scaling removes plaque and tartar from the tooth and the area below the gumline. This is a crucial step and missing the area under the gum will lead to worsening dental infections.
5) After scaling, polishing is done to remove any divots, irregularities or defects in the enamel. This keeps those bad bacteria from coming back so quickly! The gum pockets are flushed with an antiseptic agent and sometimes a barrier sealant or fluoride may be applied.
6) All of your pet’s teeth will be individually examined and then charted in the medical record. Dental radiographs are then taken to make sure no hidden disease or problems exist.
7) Finally, your veterinarian will discuss an overall treatment plan with you and also give you some helpful tips for providing a little at home dental care. We have many products that can make this an easy and fun chore for your family.
8) If you are concerned about your pet’s dental teeth or if you just think he has bad breath, let our veterinarians assist you in determining whether or not a complete dental assessment is needed.
9) Trust a site like MyVNN.com to provide you with accurate and unbiased pet health information.
Beyond the bad breath, dental disease in our pets can have some severe consequences, not the least of which is the PAIN. Yes, pets with dental disease are uncomfortable and so it’s important for all pet owners to understand the need for a proper dental cleaning…with your veterinarian!
By: Dr. Jim Humphries, Certified Veterinary Journalist, Veterinary News Network
Did you know that pets suffer from dental disease just like people do? One of the worst things about dental disease is the pain. Dogs and cats don’t always show how uncomfortable they are. Pets can have very serious dental problems, such as infected teeth, jawbone abscesses or fractured teeth and never say, “ouch” or hold their paw to their jaw, but they do hurt! Many times, when these problems are corrected, a pet’s entire personality can change. They often become more social, interactive and playful because they are no longer in pain.
So, how do you check for dental disease in your pet? First, look for yellow or brown color of the teeth, not just in the front teeth, but also the back part of the mouth. While this sounds very simple, most pet owners never lift their pet’s lip and look inside the mouth, so… Lift The Lip! Next, just smell the breath. It may not be minty fresh but it should not be foul smelling. If it is, bad bacteria have already set up and are working on infecting the gum and even loosening the attachment of the teeth to the jawbone. This means that dental disease has been progressing for months or years without you knowing.
A complete veterinary dental exam is necessary to discover hidden dental disease. Most veterinarians today use a 12-step process for this procedure. This assures that nothing is missed and all problems are properly treated.
The steps include: a history and physical exam, an oral survey checking for such things as cancer and missing teeth, ultrasonic scaling of the teeth and subgingival scaling. Subgingival scaling is critically important. This involves removing tartar and debris from the part of the tooth you can’t see – the part under the gum. This is where infection sets up.
Following the exam and cleaning, a complete polishing is done to remove irregularities in the enamel in order to slow future accumulation of tartar. Next, the gum pockets are flushed and treated with antiseptic. At this point, many veterinarians will apply a fluoride or enamel sealant treatment.
The next step includes compete charting of every tooth and the surrounding gum and bone tissue. Using a dental probe, the gum line around each tooth is probed for pockets where infection may exist. The location and depth of each pocket is recorded in the medical record, just as you have seen done at your own dentist’s office.
Next, a complete set of dental x-rays is taken. Dental x-rays have become the standard of care in veterinary practice. Without them, it is impossible to find many of the most serious dental problems such as fractured teeth, abscesses and developmental problems. Only by taking x-rays can you know the complete health status of your pet’s mouth.
Finally, a treatment plan is developed for the problems found, all necessary treatments are done and instructions are given for home care and any follow-up care that is needed. Pet owners are also taught ways to provide at home dental care to help keep their pet’s mouth and teeth healthy.
In order to perform a proper dental exam and treatment, it is essential that the pet be under anesthesia. Anesthesia today is very safe, using the most modern medications, anesthetic gases and monitoring by skilled technicians. Care for a veterinary patient under anesthesia is very similar to that of a human patient.
While the so called “no-anesthesia pet dentals” may sound appealing, the process has many risks and leaves most pets to suffer in silence simply because no actual treatment is done. This is often performed by unlicensed and untrained trained individuals who only scrape tartar from the outside of the few visible teeth while your pet is awake (assuming your pet will hold still). The process has no medical benefit whatsoever.
They cannot remove tartar from the inside surfaces of the pet’s teeth, and more importantly, they cannot remove tartar below the gum line. Often charging hundreds of dollars, these people prey on a pet owner’s fear of anesthesia. Worst of all, pet owners believe their pet’s teeth are healthy but underlying disease goes undetected and untreated, resulting in tremendous pain, tooth loss and systemic bacterial infections. In some states this practice has been outlawed.
So, to ensure your pet’s health and comfort, lift your pet’s lip and look at the teeth. Then call your veterinarian for a complete dental exam and treatment. This care is not expensive when you consider the complications and pain associated with untreated dental disease.