February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition in cats and dogs and it's completely preventable. Does your pet’s breath smell? Do friends and family shy away from Fluffy’s kisses? Then your pet probably has periodontal disease.
Not only does periodontal disease affect your pet’s oral health but the bacteria present in their mouth can move to other parts of the body like the heart, liver or kidneys.
Bacteria can travel to the heart and create rough edges to the valve leaflets and decrease the normally tight fit which can lead to degenerative valve disease which creates a heart murmur and can lead to congestive heart failure.
We can prevent periodontal disease with routine dentistry and daily oral health care of our pets. The gold standard would be to brush your pets’ teeth with an enzymatic toothpaste once a day. The more frequently you brush your pets teeth the less plaque becomes tartar that we would have to clean under anesthesia. Other products to help promote good oral care is the diet t/d (which must be chewed to have a brushing effect) CET chews (treated with an enzyme to help control tartar) or Dentachews.
A dental includes an oral exam, radiographs and cleaning of the teeth. Anesthesia is required to allow for these procedures. It is important to have all of the above procedures performed since more than fifty percent of periodontal disease exists below the gumline and can’t be seen with just an oral exam.
Home dental care can decrease the frequency of dental procedures and increase the time between dental procedures. The gold standard is brushing your pet’s teeth every day using an enzymatic toothpaste. There are other options to help promote good oral health. Just ask us to find what is going to work with you and your pet. Be very careful of allowing the dog to chew on overly hard items.
Hooves and antlers are too hard and can actually break teeth and lead to the need for extractions. Bones are also too hard for the teeth and can cause other gastrointestinal issues. Look for the Veterinary Oral Health seal of approval on your pets’ chew toys.
Cats have a unique condition regarding their teeth known as tooth resorption or formerly feline odontoclastic resorptive lesion (FORL). The tooth destroys itself from the inside out and creates weakened teeth where the crown can break away from the root or expose the pulp cavity which is extremely painful especially when trying to eat. It is a fairly common condition occurring in 20-60 % of cats over the age of five. No one knows really the cause of this condition. The only treatment is to remove the affected teeth. There is no way to prevent these lesions but good oral care can be helpful. Since we can‘t always see the lesions visually (fulI mouth radiographs are the only way to definitively diagnosis these lesions) having regular dentistry procedures where we take full mouth radiographs can improve your cat’s oral health and keep them more comfortable.