According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have oral disease by the age of 3, and it is the most frequently diagnosed health problem in pets. Common signs of oral disease can include bad breath, tartar buildup, red and swollen gums, changes in eating or chewing habits, pawing at the face and generalized depression. Many dogs and cats can have significant oral disease (abscessed or fractured teeth) without showing ANY outward signs of discomfort, even though oral disease is very painful for your pet.
A veterinarian should evaluate your pet’s dental health at least once a year. We recommend this because bacteria and food debris accumulates around a pet’s teeth and, if left unchecked, will lead to deterioration of the soft tissue and bone surrounding the teeth. This decay results in irreversible periodontal disease and even tooth loss.
There are other reasons why you should pay close attention to your pet’s dental health. Dental disease can affect other organs in the body: bacteria in the mouth can get into the blood stream and may cause serious kidney infections, liver disease, lung disease, and heart valve disease. Oral disease can also indicate that another disease process is occurring elsewhere in a pet’s body. A thorough physical exam combined with appropriate laboratory work can determine if this is the case.
Just as our own teeth require periodic dental cleaning and assessment, even more so do our pets. The procedure for cleaning your pet’s teeth (called a dental prophy) is no different from that which we experience at our own dentist. The only complication is that our pets won’t just sit still and say “Ahh”! A general anesthetic is required in order to safely scale, probe, assess and polish all surfaces of all of the teeth. We also take routine digital oral radiographs to ensure your pet’s teeth are healthy above and below the gumline.
Providing a variety of safe chew toys and, if and when possible, practicing a routine of regular brushing can help decrease the number of dental procedures your pet requires in a lifetime.
Drs. Rob Butler, Renee Fleming & Ilana Smolkin have all had extensive hours of training with a veterinary oral surgeon in the United States, and are happy to take care of your pet’s oral health care needs.