Oral/dental disease is by far the number one medical problem in dogs and cats. It is estimated that more than 70% of dogs & cats have periodontal (gum) disease by 2 years of age. To find out if your pet has periodontal disease, lift his/her lip and look for the presence of tartar, or redness and swelling of the gums. Also, if your pet’s breath smells, it is a sure sign of an oral infection.
Periodontal disease in both humans and animals has been linked to many systemic problems including kidney and liver disease, heart disease, cancers, and complications of diabetes. On a positive note, many of these conditions improve with proper dental treatment! In addition to systemic diseases, periodontal infection leads to local problems such as: tooth abscesses, nasal infection, eye loss, jaw fractures, and oral cancers. The bottom line is that dental disease can actually shorten the lifespan of both humans and animals.
In addition to the serious problems associated with periodontal disease, there are numerous other painful and/or infectious oral conditions such as: broken teeth, cavities, orthodontic disease, and oral cancers. This means that virtually every pet has some type of oral disease.
Treatment and prevention of dental disease in our pets is very similar to taking care of our teeth; homecare and professional cleanings. Professional cleanings are very important for the health of our pets and are generally recommended annually, but the frequency varies amongst breeds and individuals. In general, the smaller the breed of dog, the more often dental cleanings are necessary.
It is important to note that proper veterinary dental care requires general anesthesia. “Anesthesia-free” dentistry is not only ineffective; it is stressful to the pet and it is dangerous to have sharp instruments in their mouths while they are awake. For these reasons, this practice is illegal in the state of California. Anesthesia is very safe when performed correctly and at current standards. It also allows your veterinarian to properly clean the teeth (getting below the gumline where it really matters!) and to accomplish a thorough oral exam and treatment of any dental problems.
If you would like to know more about veterinary dentistry, please visit our website at www.dogbeachdentistry.com, which features educational articles and videos about periodontal disease as well as other common oral conditions in dogs and cats.