Small Animal Preventative and Wellness Services Allergy Testing and Treatment Annual Exams … Read More...
Imagine what would happen if you stopped brushing your own teeth; even if you ate hard food as dogs and cats do? As a result of the convenient commercial diets and table scraps; greater than 80% of dogs and cats have periodontal disease by 5 years of age. In fact, periodontal disease is the number one disease of pets 3 years of age and older.
Periodontal disease occurs when plaque, a sticky substance consisting of food and bacteria, hardens and turns to tartar. Tartar, a sort of bacterial concrete, then inflames gums leading to gingivitis and gum recession. Tartar also builds up underneath the gum line leading to infection and loosening of the tooth root. When gingivitis and periodontal disease become severe enough, animals begin to lose teeth. In addition to tooth loss, gingivitis and periodontal disease are very painful conditions for our pets. The health implications don’t stop there. A diseased mouth also affects the kidneys, liver and heart. Inflamed gums bleed easily and anytime the gums bleed bacteria from the mouth can gain easy access to the bloodstream showering the kidney, liver and heart valves with bacteria. The constant low grade infection in these organs can lead to organ failure and death. Studies have shown that animals with gingivitis and periodontal disease live an average of 2-3 years less than pets with healthy mouths.
Examinations at home as well as routine veterinary care are important in identifying and rectifying dental problems in our pets. If any abnormalities are identified then a dental cleaning under anesthesia is necessary. We use a device called an ultrasonic scaler to help remove stubborn tartar from your pet’s teeth. We then polish the teeth with a hand held polisher identical to what your dentist would use. In addition we perform a complete oral exam to identify loose or damaged teeth as well as oral tumors or abnormalities. Anesthesia is necessary in animals because they would not tolerate the extensive nature of the cleaning and exam while awake. Many people worry about the risk of anesthesia especially in older animals. Admittedly there is always a certain level of risk to any anesthetic period but the anesthesia we use is very mild and short lasting. We also put a tube down their wind pipe to help protect the airway during the cleaning. In any pet, especially older pets undergoing anesthesia, we always encourage a preoperative blood panel. This blood panel checks the function of the kidney, liver and red blood cells. If all these organs are working well and the heart sounds normal, an older animal can undergo anesthesia as safely as a young animal. Dental cleanings are recommended every 6-12 months depending on your individual pet and its susceptibility to dental problems. Routine examinations will help to identify the frequency of dental cleanings that your particular pet needs.