Dental health is one aspect of your pet’s health that you may not have spent much time thinking about, but should take seriously. Just like in humans, animal dental health issues can indicate a more serious health issue, or can potentially cause other health problems. It’s important to have your pet’s teeth and gums checked annually in order to intervene early enough to address any concerns, keeping your pet’s mouth as healthy as possible.
What Happens During a Dental Care Exam?
Your veterinarian will begin by examining your pet’s mouth. X-rays may also be necessary to evaluate your pet’s jaw health. This is because dental disease occurs below the gumline, which also means that dental cleanings will require anesthesia so that the veterinarian can truly clean where it counts. Cleaning your pet’s teeth is similar to what happens when you go to the dentist yourself; the vet will remove plaque and tartar by scaling and will polish them to have them looking like new.
How Often Should My Pet Get a Dental Exam?
You should bring your pet to our vet clinic at least once a year for a dental checkup for optimal oral health. This ensures that your pet’s mouth stays healthy, and we are able to intervene early with any issues. If you notice any of the following issues, it’s important to have your pet’s mouth checked ASAP:
- Very bad breath
- Broken teeth
- Loose teeth
- Extra teeth
- Discolored teeth
- Abnormal chewing or drooling
- Lack of appetite
- Mouth pain
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Mouth swelling
Keep in mind that your pet may be in pain, which can cause them to become irritable. Be careful when evaluating their mouth as, if they are in pain, they may instinctively bite. If you suspect that your dog or cat has a dental problem that is causing them discomfort and are concerned about evaluating this problem yourself, bring them into our veterinary clinic and one of our vet technicians can help determine the cause of their pain.
What Causes Dental Problems for Pets?
Though cavities are not as common among pets as they are in people, they still have many of the same dental problems as humans:
- Broken teeth
- Periodontal disease
- Infected teeth
- Mouth cysts and tumors
- Palate defects
- Broken jaw
The most common dental problem for dogs and cats is periodontal disease. Humans prevent periodontal disease by brushing and flossing every day, but most pet owners do not brush their pet’s teeth very often (if at all). By the time your pet is three years old, there is a good chance that there will be early signs of periodontal disease, which worsens over time without proper intervention. Severe periodontal disease can cause your pet serious pain and dental issues, so it is important to intervene as early as possible once your vet has noticed the signs. This disease is so pervasive, it doesn’t just impact dental health—it can also cause heart issues. Liver and kidney disease in pets have also been associated with periodontal disease. Symptoms of periodontal disease in animals include:
- Red or bleeding gums
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Loose teeth
- Bloody saliva
- Lumps in the mouth
- Chewing on one side of the mouth
- Trouble picking up food
- Noises while eating or yawning
It’s important to note that these are symptoms of more advanced stages of periodontal disease. In many cases, there will be no obvious symptoms to you. Therefore, it is important to get your pet to our vet clinic as soon as possible for a dental care exam to ensure that they have optimal health. Contact Countryside Animal Hospital for an appointment!