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Your Pet's Dental Health

Dental disease is one of the most common health issues that we see in veterinary medicine. Not only does dental disease cause pain and bad breath, it can sometimes be the source of other complications throughout the body, or make other disease processes more difficult to manage. Pets have difficulty expressing the degree of discomfort they are experiencing in their mouths. This makes it important for you to have your pet's teeth examined by your veterinarian yearly to determine any subtle changes in dental health. Here at Foley Blvd Animal Hospital, our experienced veterinarians are adept at determining the state of your pet's teeth and can help you take the best care of your companion's oral cavity. Often some changes in dental care can make a big difference in your pet's quality of life.

The basics of dental disease

- Plaque is the soft white substance that covers the teeth above and below the gums in between brushing. It is made up of a film of bacteria. It can be removed with regular brushing of the teeth.

- If the plaque is allowed to stay on your pet's teeth, it can turn into the brown tartar buildup that you can visibly see. Once the tartar has built up, it can no longer be removed with brushing alone—a professional cleaning is required to remove it.

- As more tartar builds up, the gums become inflamed. Inflammation causes the gums to recede and the bone then loses its strength. The teeth can become loose and the roots can become infected. At that point, the only treatment option is extraction of the diseased teeth.

What to expect from a dental examination

The first step in evaluation is a routine wellness examination. This will give us a full picture of your pet's health. This may include blood work to screen for underlying disease and to determine if there are any concerns that should be addressed if general anesthesia is needed.

Your veterinarian will do a full oral evaluation at the wellness exam. We will be looking at the amount of tartar, gingivitis, and gum recession, and looking for any loose or broken teeth. If your pet is uncooperative or if the mouth is too painful, we may suggest sedation to evaluate and treat the dental disease.

If a professional dental cleaning is recommended for your pet, we will need to use general anesthesia. We will then be able to evaluate each tooth individually for evidence of problems. Each tooth will be probed and cleaned, both above and below the gum line, which is not possible to do without general anesthesia. If there are any indications of periodontal disease or infection, we will take a digital dental x-ray to evaluate the tooth roots and bone.

A professional dental cleaning may be recommended as often as every six months, depending on your dog or cat's teeth. Some breeds, such as Greyhounds, are known for having challenging teeth. Small breed dogs such as poodles, dachsunds, and Schnauzers also experience poor oral health. Some cats have certain issues which are unique to felines and which may cause significant oral pain. Other dogs and cats may need a professional cleaning only once every several years, especially if home care is utilized.

Dental Home Care

The best treatment of a pet's dental disease is prevention. Excellent home care can help avoid the need for cleaning and evaluation under anesthesia. Our friendly and knowledgeable technicians can instruct you on the best ways to care for your pet's teeth at home.

We recommend daily brushing with a soft toothbrush and dog or cat toothpaste. No other products exist which can take the place of brushing the teeth. However, there are some products which can be used in addition to brushing which can also improve your pet's dental health. These include dental chews, treats, water additives, and at-home sealant products. These products serve to minimize the plaque buildup in your pet's mouth.

Here at FBAH we are experienced at assessing and treating dental disease in dogs and cats. When our veterinarians recommend a professional dental cleaning, you can be assured that it is in the best interest of your pet to have its dental health addressed. After a professional cleaning, our experienced technicians will cover home care instructions with you.

Many pet owners find that their pets act more like themselves after their dental care issues have been addressed. Your pet is counting on you to help. Please contact our office if you have any questions, or to schedule an evaluation.