Severe dental disease can adversely affect every part of your pet’s body, not to mention that it can be very painful. So a little knowledge is power when it comes to your pet’s oral health. If you’ve ever had a severe toothache, you can relate to how your pets may be feeling. Today we’re answering some common questions we’re asked regarding animal dentistry and oral surgery in Idaho Falls.
What are the signs and symptoms of dental disease in pets?
Honestly, most the time that a dog or cat has dental disease he or she does not show any signs at all. Pets are masters at hiding problems and pretending all is well.
But sometimes they do show it. There are a number of things that should alert you to dental disease in your pet that may require animal dentistry and oral surgery, including:
- Bad breath;
- Diminished appetite;
- Approaching the food and then backing away as if their teeth hurt;
- Chewing with obvious caution and discomfort;
- Chewing on one side of the mouth;
- Dropping food from the mouth;
- Pawing at the mouth.
How common is dental disease in pets?
It is more common than most people realize. In fact, 2 out of 3 cats and 8 out of 10 dogs over the age of 3 have some degree of dental disease.
What causes dental disease?
The most common cause of dental disease is the accumulation of tartar. Organic material and bacteria accumulate on the surface of teeth, which eventually forms tartar. Tartar starts at the gums, especially on the back teeth, and in severe cases it can cover the entire tooth.
Tartar on the teeth then often results in gingivitis or inflammation of the gums. For early stages of the disease, a thorough dental cleaning by your veterinarian will lead to a full recovery. This is where prevention with daily brushing and special dental treats can be very important. Your veterinarian can educate you regarding the proper brushing technique.
If gingivitis progresses, irreversible periodontal disease can occur that may require oral surgery. The bone that supports the tooth is destroyed, leading to pain and infection around the root of the tooth. At that point, infection can spread deep into the tooth socket, creating an abscess, or it can enter the blood stream and affect the heart, kidneys and other internal organs. This process usually leads to tooth loss unless periodontal surgery is performed.
What should I do if my pet shows symptoms of dental problems?
If your pet shows signs of dental disease, you should take them to your family veterinarian for an examination and cleaning, which is performed under general anesthesia. X-rays can help determine if a tooth has disease where the naked eye can’t see, below the gums and into the roots. Dental X-rays are a vital part of a dental cleaning and can determine if oral surgery is required.
How can I prevent dental disease in my pet?
Recent developments in pet foods have resulted in diets that can decrease tartar buildup. Your veterinarian can provide specific recommendations that can benefit your pets and keep their teeth clean between professional cleanings. Dental treats help scrape plaque off the teeth and keep them shiny and healthy.
One of the most effective ways to keep your pet’s teeth healthy is to brush them every day. Toothpastes and brushes are available that are specially designed for a pet’s mouth and typically taste good to dogs and cats. Daily brushing should become a regular part of your home health care routine for your pet, along with grooming, exercise, and nail trims.
With a little work on your part and help from your family veterinarian or dental specialist, you can help increase your pet’s overall health by keeping their teeth and gums healthy. You’ll be glad you did, and you’ll love the fresh breath and improved health that comes with it.
If you think your pet might require animal dentistry and oral surgery in Idaho Falls – don’t hesitate – call our office today to schedule a consultation! Your pet will thank you for it!