Dental disease — it’s about so much more than just bad breath!
Actually, dental disease isn’t just something that affects your pet’s mouth. It can also have negative health effects on the rest of the body, including the heart, liver, and kidneys.
That’s because, when your pet’s gums get inflamed and infected due to dental disease, bacteria can migrate into the bloodstream and spread to other parts of the body.
Dental disease is one of the most common medical conditions in pets — in fact, at least 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of dental disease by the time they’re 3 years old.
But don’t worry — here at Lineberger Veterinary Hospital, we’re here to help you take care of your pet’s total health… and that includes their teeth!
How can I tell if my pet has dental disease?
There are a few signs you can look for at home, including:
- Stinky breath
- Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
- Excessive drooling
- Teeth that are discolored, or have obvious tartar buildup
- Missing, broken, or loose teeth
- Changes to your pet’s eating habits — such as dropping their food, swallowing their food whole without chewing it, or even a loss of appetite
However, as with many medical conditions — pets tend to hide their discomfort until the pain gets worse.
So, when in doubt, an evaluation by your veterinarian can help determine if there’s a dental problem.
Is dental disease painful?
Besides having effects on their overall health — dental disease can also cause discomfort in your pet’s mouth.
That’s because dental tartar is the perfect spot for bacteria to grow… which leads to periodontal disease, a condition that affects the structures that hold the tooth in place, and even leads to bone loss in the jaw.
This creates pain, bleeding, infection, inflammation, and tooth loss. And in very severe cases, even jaw fractures.
I think my pet has dental disease. What should I do?
The best place to start is by talking with your veterinarian, and having them evaluate your pet’s mouth.
When it comes to dental disease, it’s better to prevent problems BEFORE they start…
Because once damage is already done, it usually can’t be reversed. Being proactive will help save your pet’s teeth, and improve their overall health — and, save you money in the long-term!
Treatment typically involves two things: dental cleanings, and home care.
- A dental cleaning is a procedure during which all the tartar buildup is removed, and any infections or other problems are treated.
- Most pets can benefit from dental cleanings once per year — but your veterinarian will let you know if it’s recommended.
- Dental radiographs (x-rays) are recommended to spot problems below the gum line.
The gold standard in home care is to brush your pet’s teeth daily, with a toothpaste designed for pets (so it’s safe if they eat it). Don’t worry, we can show you how!
Certain dental treats and dental diets are also helpful.
You can check your pet’s teeth and gums at home from time to time, and, monitor for any of the symptoms listed above.
Keeping up with their routine wellness exams will help to spot problems early on, too.
Does my pet need anesthesia for a dental cleaning?
Here at Lineberger Veterinary Hospital, our dentals are performed under anesthesia, for several reasons:
- To keep your pet safe
- To prevent fear or pain during a cleaning
- To ensure your pet gets a full evaluation of the entire mouth — sometimes, during a dental, we’ll notice masses or other problems in the mouth or the throat, that would have been difficult to see otherwise
- To ensure your pet receives a thorough cleaning of ALL teeth — that includes the part of the tooth you can see, as well as the part under the gum line (think of it as the tip of the iceberg… often, dental disease is worse below the gum line)
How to schedule a dental evaluation and cleaning
We’ll start with a veterinary consult — to evaluate your pet’s mouth, as well as their overall health. Then, if recommended, we’ll schedule their procedure for you.
We look forward to helping you keep your furry best friend in good health — and, to helping you enjoy your time cuddling together, without any stinky breath!