Dental disease is one of the most common problems our pets face throughout their lives. Chronic dental disease not only causes pain and discomfort in the mouth, but the chronic inflammation and infection can affect other vital organs such the heart, lungs and kidneys. Priest Lake Veterinary Hospital focuses on your pet’s dental health as a vital part of your pet’s health, wellness and quality of life.
According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have periodontal disease by the age of 3. The problem with this statistic is that gum disease can lead to many other medical issues, which can potentially shorten the life of a pet.
When your pet’s dental health is continually ignored, severe symptoms and conditions begin to occur. The downward slide usually occurs is this order:
- Bad breath
- Discoloration of the teeth moving toward the gum line
- Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
- Loosening or loss of teeth
- Various diseases affecting major organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys
How do I know if my pet has dental disease?
Bad breath, red or swollen gums, discolored or loose teeth, reluctance to play with chew toys, or pain when eating can all be signs of dental disease. However, often in the earlier stages you won’t notice anything amiss, which is why regular, annual physical examinations help us identify dental disease early.
How is dental disease treated?
We take a comprehensive approach to assessing and treating your pet’s dental health. Under general anesthesia we perform a complete oral examination and take full mouth X-rays to determine if any teeth are compromised enough to warrant extraction. If extractions are necessary, then the affected teeth are removed and a flap of gum tissue is sutured over the extraction site. Local “numbing” anesthesia is used to ensure pain management during and after the procedure. All healthy teeth have the tartar removed and are polished to smooth out the tooth surface which helps to prevent the tartar from coming back.
I’m worried about the risks of anesthesia for my pet.
We take every precaution to ensure the safest anesthetic procedure possible and the result is that anesthetic complications are extremely rare. Pre-anesthetic blood testing helps us ensure your pet is healthy to undergo anesthesia and allows us to tailor the anesthetic protocol to best fit your pet’s overall health. Intravenous fluids are given to support blood pressure and careful monitoring of vital parameters such as EKG, blood pressure and pulse oximetry during the procedure ensures a safer experience. Although there is always a very small risk of complications with any anesthetic procedure, leaving dental disease untreated leads to greater risk to your pet’s overall health.
What can I do to keep my pet’s mouth healthy?
The two best ways to prevent plaque and tartar build up are 1) Feeding a high-quality diet, and 2) brushing your pet’s teeth several times per week. Interested in learning how to brush your pet’s teeth? Our veterinarians will be happy to help you get started. If your pet won’t tolerate brushing, our veterinarians can also recommend products that will help keep your pet’s mouth healthy in between cleanings.
Dental Digital Radiography at Priest Lake Veterinary Hospital
At PLVH we have digital dental radiography and computerized dental charting software for dogs and cats. Providing quality dental care to your pet is impossible without dental radiographs. So much of dental disease, such as periodontal disease, tooth root abscesses, jaw fractures, tumors, etc., occurs below the gum line, that dental radiography is an absolute necessity to practice veterinary dentistry.
There are many advantages to digital dental radiology. The quality of digital radiographs is much better than x-rays produced by a traditional machine. Fewer images of the teeth are needed in order to make an accurate diagnosis. As a result, your pet receives less anesthesia and spends less time on the x-ray table when using digital radiology.