• How common are dental problems in pets?

    Over 70% of all dogs and cats over five years of age suffer from periodontal disease, which means that they have loss of the supporting structures of the teeth. In most cases, this process is uncomfortable and it will eventually lead to problems such as loose teeth, bacteria in the blood stream, and damage to the kidneys, heart and liver. The majority of dogs and cats seen at this practice over the age of 5 years have one or more painful teeth in their mouth.

  • My pet does not act painful so how can there be any problems in the mouth?

    Most pets with painful dental conditions do not show obvious signs of any problems. This does not mean that they are not feeling pain, but rather are not acting in a manner that we recognize as "painful". Studies have shown that dogs and cats have the same basic anatomy and sense pain much as we do. You know how you feel when you have a painful dental problem. Why should a dog or cat feel any different? In the wild, if an animal shows weakness, it can become singled out to be eaten by predators or be moved down the chain of authority within the group. Wild animals tend to hide any sign of illness. I believe that both dogs and cats possess this innate instinct to hide any sign of "weakness". Because the painful condition comes on gradually, most owners of pets with painful mouths think that their pet is just "acting a little older", or is a "little grumpy due to age". When the painful condition is removed, the improvement is usually very noticeable and rapid. Many owners tell us that their pet is acting "years younger" following treatment. In our opinion, the most common reason for a dog or cat to act older is due to painful dental disease. This usually goes unnoticed by the owner, and in many cases by the general practitioner.

  • If dental problems are so common, why are they not seen in wild animals?

    Dental problems occur with great regularity in wild animals. Studies on African Wild Dog skulls around 100 years old show that very similar numbers and types of dental problems occurred with the skull specimens as occur with pet dogs and cats. Keep in mind that these wild animals only lived to be a few years old, while many domestic dogs and cats are living well into their teens. The wild animals do not have as much of a chance to "outlive their teeth", while domestic pets, are now living long enough to show significant dental problems.

  • How do I know if my pet needs dental care?

    Indications that your pet might be in need of dental care would include the presence of a red stripe along the gum line, unpleasant odor from the mouth, reluctance to chew, change in chewing behaviors, inability to see the teeth due to calculus accumulation, reluctance to allow home care, broken teeth, discolored teeth, loose teeth, draining or swelling around the face or jaw, decreased appetite, swellings or enlargements of the oral tissues, difficulty in swallowing, rubbing the face with a paw (sometimes resulting in eye irritation), rubbing the face on the carpet, and other signs as well. Consult a veterinarian knowledgeable about dental care in your area to see about the possibility of dental problems in your pet.

  • How often should my pets have their teeth cleaned?

    This varies tremendously from individual to individual. Factors affecting the frequency of professional care include the presence of pre-existing disease, individual physiology, the degree of homecare that is provided, diet, and individual habits. In general, most pets need their teeth cleaned from every 6 months to a year. The best advice is to have a veterinarian knowledgeable about dental care examine your pet and give you a recommendation.

  • Why does my pet need to be anesthetized to have its teeth cleaned?

    Unfortunately, some lay people have tried to make a business out of cleaning pet's teeth without anesthesia, playing on the owner's fear of anesthesia. In our opinion, this is worse for the pet than doing nothing at all. Removing the visible tartar from above the gum line is only one of the twelve steps involved in a proper dental cleaning, and is not even the most important part. This is the only part of the cleaning that can be done in an "awake" animal, and it cannot be done very well. Think of the degree of cooperation that you give the hygienist when you have your teeth cleaned. For 45 minutes you remain reasonably still while they scrape your teeth, having you spit out periodically. Imagine if someone tried to do this to you without explaining the process? Imagine if you had a painful area in your mouth as most dogs and cats do? Imagine how involved the cleaning would be if you did not ever brush your teeth, like most pets? How complete could the job possibly be? These people have no training in identifying or treating dental problems in pets. All they can do is remove, painfully, some of the tartar in your pet's mouth. They cannot clean under the gum line (the most important part of the cleaning) or obtain any dental radiographs of problem areas. The reason it is worse than doing nothing is that it gives an owner a sense that the pet has been well cared for, in addition to leaving a very rough surface that actually promotes future dental disease. Proper dental care in animals requires general anesthesia, period!

  • Why even bother with home care for my pet?

    There is always some risk of complications when anesthesia is used. The safety of anesthesia depends primarily on the skill and training of the person responsible for the procedure. In veterinary medicine, this varies a great deal from practice to practice. In some practices, the nurses are responsible for anesthesia, while in others the doctors are directly involved. At Animal Dental Care, the doctor administers and constantly monitors the anesthetic episode. There are newer injectable and inhalation (gas) anesthetic agents that can significantly decrease the effects of the anesthetic episode. These newer agents tend to be more expensive, but the patients "wake up" much faster. Other factors that make a big difference are the use of pre-anesthetic blood work to identify problems with your pet's internal chemistry, the use of IV fluids during the procedure (can you imagine a person being anesthetized without an IV?), anesthetic monitoring that includes blood pressure and blood oxygenation, general patient care, and attention to individual needs. Many of our patients are 10-15 years of age, and are ready to go home, acting normal, less than one hour after completion of a procedure lasting several hours. If managed properly, the anesthetic risks are very minimal. Ask questions about the type of anesthesia that will be used on your pet, how they will be monitored, and who will be administering the anesthesia.

 

 

Why is Good Oral Health Important for Your Pet?

 

Pet Dental FAQ's