Just like people, our cats and dogs can suffer from the effects of gum disease and tooth decay. This is why diligent dental care is an essential element of your pet's overall health. Our vets in Suffolk County share some advice for keeping your cat or dog's teeth and mouth healthy.
Why is pet dental care important?
Every pet parent wants their pet to have great lifelong dental health. Here are five reasons why attentive dental care for dogs and cats is so important to their general health.
1. Preventing teeth from falling out
If the structures surrounding your pet's teeth become infected or damaged, this will eventually lead to loose and missing teeth. With good dog and cat dental care, you can make sure these supportive structures remain healthy and that the teeth stay in place.
2. Preventing pain in the mouth
Severe dental disease (or dental disease at any stage) can be quite painful. Prevent oral pain and make sure your companion's teeth keep functioning as they're supposed to by keeping your pet's teeth and gums healthy.
3. Preventing bad breath
Halitosis or bad breath is a common problem for dogs and cats, but it's actually a sign of dental disease. While a mild odor is normal, a strong smell of fish, poop, acetone, urine, garbage, sewer or other scents can indicate trouble such as an infection or buildup of bacteria. When your dog's teeth and mouth are healthy, very bad breath won't be an issue.
4. Preventing gum disease from progressing
Many pets have periodontal disease by the time they are just 3 years old. That said, diligent pet dental care can keep dental disease from progressing and causing problems in the rest of the body.
5. Preventing organ damage
As alluded to above, dental disease can cause organ damage as a result of bacteria in plaque entering the bloodstream, traveling to the heart and spreading to organs such as the liver and kidneys. This can quickly lead to dogs becoming severely ill. Good oral hygiene prevents the spread of bacteria and subsequent organ damage (along with expensive procedures to correct these problems).
What will happen during my pet's dental care appointment?
Our Suffolk County vets are here to help prevent your dog or cat from developing tooth decay and periodontal disease. We recommend booking an annual dental appointment for your pet. Your pet may need to come in more often if they are experiencing recurring or more severe dental issues.
When you bring your pet in to Deer Park Animal Hospital for a dental checkup, our vets will perform a complete oral exam to look for signs of dental problems, including:
- Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
- Discoloured teeth
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
- Bad breath
- Loose or broken teeth
- Extra or retained baby teeth
- Bleeding around the mouth
If you detect symptoms of periodontal disease in your pet, such as reduced appetite (which could indicate tooth pain), abnormal chewing, drooling, dropping food from the mouth, bad breath or other symptoms be sure to contact your vet right away to schedule a dental appointment for your pet. Oral health issues can become severe if left untreated and cause your pet a great deal of pain and discomfort.
Our vets assess all pets to ensure that they are healthy enough to handle anesthesia and conduct additional diagnostics if required to ensure that a dental exam while sedated is safe for your pet. Once your pet is safely sedated, we will perform a full oral exam (tooth-by-tooth) complete with charting, (just like your dentist does during your examinations).
While we have your pet safely and comfortably under anesthesia, our team will thoroughly clean and polish their teeth, both above and below the gum line. We probe and X-Ray the teeth, then to help protect against future decay and damage we use a fluoride treatment before applying a dental sealant to prevent plaque buildup.
If your pet is suffering from advanced periodontal disease, we will work with you to develop a treatment plan to help restore their mouth to a pain-free and healthy state.
Should I brush my pet's teeth?
As a pet owner, you play a pivotal role in helping them fight dental disease. Here are a few easy ways that you can help to keep your pet's teeth clean and healthy:
- Use a finger brush from your vet, or a child’s toothbrush to brush your pet’s teeth daily to remove any plaque or debris.
- Use a plaque prevention product (your vet can recommend some), which you can apply to your pet’s teeth and gums. These products act as a barrier to prevent plaque buildup.
- Offer your pet treats such as dental chews or food designed to help prevent plaque buildup and tartar.
- Dental care is an important part of your pet's overall health. Be sure to book your pet's annual dental appointment today, they will thank you.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. If you are concerned about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian right away for diagnosis and treatment.