According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of dental disease by the age of 3. Dental care is possibly one of the most neglected aspects of caring for a pet. Sadly, some pets go their entire life without any dental care at all.
Symptoms of dental problems include bad breath, changes in eating habits, and pawing or rubbing the face. Often, though, pets do not show signs of a problem until it has caused serious damage. Pet wellness checkups are the most effective means of detecting problems early and resolving them before permanent damage results. Your veterinarian can help you develop an in-home dental care program and teach you how to best care for your pet. Proper care will slow the onset of pet dental disease.
Problems start when bacteria, saliva, and food combine and cause plaque to form on the teeth and gums. Plaque eventually becomes a hard substance called tartar. The accumulation of tartar and plaque can lead to inflammation and destruction of the bone tissue that supports teeth, thus resulting in periodontal disease. Left untreated, this can lead to pain and deep gum infection as well as the eventual loss of teeth. This infection can also cause damage to other organs such as the liver, heart, and kidneys.
Pets require comprehensive dental cleanings periodically throughout their life. These procedures are performed under general anesthesia so that the oral cavity can be thoroughly examined. Your pet’s teeth will be cleaned on all surfaces and under the gum line. The teeth will be polished and a fluoride treatment applied. Any extractions that may be required will also be performed.
Patients vary as to when dental cleaning is required. Your veterinarian will recommend dental cleaning during your pet’s wellness examination if he or she needs it.