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February is Dental Awareness Month
Why is my Pets Dental Health Important?
Many times owners will complain that their pets’ breath smells bad, often times described as “fishy”. This bad breath known as halitosis is much more than just “doggie breath”. This is an indication that there is probably heavy tarter build-up on your pets’ teeth which houses bacteria. This bacteria is now in an environment where, if left untreated, can enter into the bloodstream. Bacteria entering the bloodstream can and will take up residence in your pets major organs, such as the heart, which can end up causing more serious problems/disease later. With that being said, periodontal disease, in all its stages, is the number affliction of pets.

What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is a catch all term for many plaque-induced inflammatory lesions that affect the periodontium. The periodontium is made up of the gingiva, periodontal ligament, cementum and alveolar bone. Gingiva is the gums that surround the teeth. Periodontal ligaments are the connective tissues that connect the root cementum to the alveolar bone. The cementum is a bone-like tissue that covers the tooth root surface and the alveolar bone is composed of the ridges of the jaw that support the teeth. Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gingiva and the earliest sign of disease. If gingivitis is left untreated, it may develop into periodontitis. The inflammatory reactions of periodontitis results in destruction of the periodontal ligament and alveolar bone which will end up causing tooth loss. It should be known that gingivitis is reversible with treatment.

catbrushMy pet is eating just fine -- is a Dental Cleaning really necessary?
Owners will often report that their pets eat just fine, so why should they have their pets teeth professionally cleaned. Unlike us humans, animals will not stop eating because they have a tooth ache. Food consumption is one of your animals basic survival needs. Animals will continue to consume food regardless of the condition of their mouth in most situations. Many times, pets that were reported as eating normally were found to have gingivitis, loose and or fractured teeth requiring extractions. Often after a pet has had their teeth cleaned and those needing extraction removed, owners report that their pets behavior/attitude has improved/increased. We will often hear of pets being more active and happy which makes the quality of life better for everyone.

How Can I Prevent Oral Disease in Cats and Dogs?
Develop a dental care routine that's as easy as 1,2,3.
dog dentalThe bacteria that lurk in a pet's mouth may be the cause of bad breath and more. Bacteria accumulation can lead to oral disease and increase the risk for disease in other organs, such as the heart, liver and kidneys, according to research presented at a recent conference on Companion Animal Oral Health.
The American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS) reports that 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by age three. In fact, oral disease is the most common health problem treated in small animal clinics today.
The partners of the Pets Need Dental Care, Too™ campaign, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Veterinary Dental Society, and Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc., urge pet owners to undertake a three-step dental care program:
• Visit your veterinarian for a complete checkup.
• Start a pet dental care routine at home with the right food and brushing.
• Continue regular veterinary dental checkups.

This article from Hill's Science Diet Oral Care brand pet food.

Bad Breath
Foul-smelling breath can mean big trouble for your pooch. Here’s how to make sure your doggy is free of dental disease.
Are you avoiding kisses and nuzzles from your pup because his morning breath lasts from morning to night? Strong breath odor is not normal and can indicate some serious problems.
The most common cause of bad breath in pets is dental disease. The bacteria associated with tartar buildup on the teeth are what create that all-too-familiar odor. Tartar is a hard yellow or brown buildup on the teeth, often near the gum line. Other problems, such as gum disease, tooth abscesses, mouth tumors, and ulcers, or a foreign object stuck in the teeth, can also bring on bad breath.
If your pets’ breath smells strangely sweet, ammonia-like, or more like a sewer, an underlying illness could be the cause. Diabetes mellitus, kidney disease, and intestinal obstruction each have distinct breath odors, but these diseases are also usually associated with other symptoms, such as lethargy, appetite loss, and vomiting.
If your not-too-picky pooch snacks on animal waste or licks at his anal area, his breath will likely smell like an outhouse. This odor is usually most noticeable right after the offending event, but his breath will improve after he eats his dog food or drinks water.
Dogs with large floppy lips, such as cocker spaniels, bulldogs, and Saint Bernards, can develop foul-smelling mouths from a condition called lip fold pyoderma. Saliva, food, and bacteria accumulate in the small creases of the mouth and can lead to infection.

This article from Hill's Science Diet Oral Care brand pet food.


before after

What is involved in a professional dental cleaning?
In order to properly clean your pets’ teeth, your pet will be placed under general anesthesia. Heavy calculi will first be removed by hand and then all surfaces of your pets’ teeth will be scaled using an ultrasonic scalar. This includes under the gum line, where bacteria can hang out. After all scaling has been completed your pets teeth will be polished to smooth out the microscopic abrasions on the teeth and then a fluoride treatment will then be applied. Once these steps have been completed an examination of every tooth will be preformed and charted in your pets’ medical record. It is also at this time that any needed extractions will be preformed. Once these steps are all completed an application of OraVet will be applied to the surface of your pets’ teeth.  OraVet is a sealant that aids in the prevention of tarter build-up on the tooth surface. It is then recommended that OraVet home care be continued at home for optimal protection.

What can I do at home to aid in my pets dental health?

  • Brush your pets teeth
  • Give your dog appropriate chew toys
  • Avoid giving your dog pig ears and hooves since they are very hard and can fracture your dogs teeth

How many teeth should my dog or cat have?

Adult dogs have 42
Puppies have 28
Adult cats have 30
Kittens have 26