Did you know that dental disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem for pets?
Symptoms of dental disease include:
- Dental plaque and tartar on the teeth
- Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums)
- Periodontal disease (progressive destruction of gum and bony tissues)
- Abscesses (pockets of infection associated with the teeth)
- Cavities or cavity-like erosions (in cats)
Unfortunately, dental disease may result in life-threatening heart, kidney, and liver disease if left untreated. In addition, pets with dental disease may develop bad breath, bleeding from the mouth, and/or nasal discharge.
Professionally cleaning your pet's teeth is recommended in the treatment of a pet with dental disease. This involves the use of a variety of dental scalers and then polishing the teeth. Dental x-rays are usually taken as well.
Pets affected with dental disease may also benefit from:
- gum procedures (periodontics)
- root canals (endodontics)
- restorative dentistry (e.g., fillings)
In most cases, a dental procedure requires an anesthetic involving a one-day stay in the hospital. Pre-anesthetic blood testing is required for all patients. Some pets may require additional tests (EKG, chest x-rays, etc.) prior to the use of an anesthetic.
After the necessary treatment, you can help in the slowing of the dental disease by feeding your pet hard foods and brushing his or her teeth. An animal whose owner brushes his teeth is a happier, healthier pet!
Courtesy of Dr. Debra Fiorito, board-certified veterinary dental specialist in New Jersey.