Your Pet’s Dental Health: It’s Not All about the Chompers

What’s better than kisses from our furry family? Kisses that don’t smell like you have a dragon beast instead of a cute fluffy friend!  Unfortunately, dental health is something that often gets overlooked until it’s undeniably an issue. But it’s important to remember that poor dental health can lead to problems beyond missing teeth. A thorough sedated dental cleaning is important so that your veterinarian can find any problems beyond the gum line that may be plaguing your fluffy friend.

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Your pet’s oral health is more than just maintaining their pearly whites. In recent studies researchers have discovered potential links between poor oral hygiene and cardiac issues such as endocarditis. This link seems to be specific to pets suffering from periodontal disease or gum disease. In addition to inflammation and bleeding, gum disease can also cause tooth and bone loss as well as pain and discomfort.

Brushing your pet’s teeth will help cut down on the chances of suffering from poor dental health, but most oral health maintenance products are designed to be incorporated in conjunction with dental cleanings.  During a dental cleaning your pet’s teeth will be scaled and polished just as yours would be at your dentist’s office. Anesthesia is required in order to get into gingival pockets and areas below the gum line that would otherwise be inaccessible and cannot be cleaned with brushing alone. Once your pet’s teeth are nice and thoroughly cleaned, brushing and enzymatic dental aids will be much more effective at preventing tarter build up and freshening breath.

Resorptive Lesions are another issue that can lead to tooth loss. This affliction is most common in cats, however it can be seen in dogs as well. Without getting too technical here’s the basics; plaque forms on the tooth and irritates the mouth, the tooth enamel erodes, this can continue to the dentin and the further to the pulp canal which contains blood vessels and nerves (ouch!). These lesions can occur below the gum line and under plaque that has built up on teeth making them difficult to spot.  Your cat or dog will typically have jaw pain (no more happy head bonks) when rubbing against you for pets and may also display excess drooling, bleeding, pawing at the face and dropping food.

In addition to physical discomfort and health issues from poor dental health your pet may also experience emotional and psychological effects due to poor dental hygiene. Not being able to properly eat can lead to unwanted weight loss and depression. The ability to comfortably enjoy meal time and treats is a huge part of your pet’s quality of life. Pain associated with chewing can lead to weight loss and reclusive depressed behavior and or irritability. The inability to chew toys and enjoy play time can also negatively impact your dog or cats everyday life. Pain may also cause sudden aggression and other negative attitudes.

Since dental health is so important to your pet’s overall well being, the month of February has been designated the National Pet Dental Health Month by the American Veterinary Medical Association.  During this time a lot of clinics run special promotions regarding dental care. For instance here at AWC we’ll be offering 20% off dental cleanings. A dental evaluation preformed by a technician is free of charge and all that’s required is a current Rabies vaccine. So if you feel like your pet’s breath is a little out of control, or you’ve noticed strange behavior with regards to eating habits give us a call!