Dental health in dogs and cats is an important, and often overlooked, area of wellness or pet health maintenance. We all know the importance of regular brushing and dental health checkups for ourselves but tend to forget about these needs in our furry companions.
Dental tartar inevitably leads to periodontal disease, which is by far the most common dental problem of companion animals. Periodontal disease is painful, and left untreated, tooth loss is inevitable. An observant pet owner may notice that there is a problem if their pet starts dropping pieces of food while eating, goes over to the food dish as if hungry and then walks away (unfortunately often interpreted as “finicky” appetite), chews food only on one side of the mouth, or loses interest in chewing hard things such as rawhide bones and chew toys. In some cases, pet owners notice nothing at all until their cat’s mouth starts smelling bad or their dog develops a swelling beneath the eye (indicating a tooth root abscess). In its early stages, dental disease can be treated and controlled with minimal pain and loss of teeth. However, once a tooth root becomes abscessed, it will require either a root canal treatment or an extraction.
We are very happy to annouce as of August 2013, we are able to offer digital x-rays to our patients. Patients in for “routine teeth cleaning and examination” will now benefit from a doctor seeing the other 50% of the tooth below the gum line. This allows the doctor to detect serious issues that would be impossible to diagnose without radiographs. Some of these issues are enamel defects, fractures beneath the gum line and bone loss.
Prevention is a far easier and better option for the average pet and owner, with regular toothbrushing, dental checkups, and professional dental cleaning and polishing as indicated.