Like people, animals need regular dental care. Gum disease causes pain, accounts for the loss of teeth, and can lead to serious generalized bacterial infections. Our physical exams include a thorough examination of the mouth. Teeth cleaning (removal of dental plaque and tartar) is an important step in preventing dental problems.
Why Pet Dental Care is Important
Dental hygiene is an important part of your pet's health and can often be the cause of serious illness. Dental problems, if left untreated, can often lead to larger systemic problems in your pet due to oral bacteria entering the blood stream and damaging the kidneys, heart and liver.
Pets have dental disease just like you do. Many of these problems can be avoided by bringing your pet to your veterinarian for regular dental check-ups and teeth cleanings. Bad breath and/or reddened gums are the most common signs of dental problems.
Some signs of dental problems include:
Bad breath - one of the first signs of dental disease
A yellowish-brown crust of plaque on the teeth near the gum line
Red and swollen gums
Pain or bleeding when your pet eats or when the mouth or gums are touched
Decreased appetite or difficulty eating
Loose or missing teeth
What Happens During a Cleaning
Veterinary dentistry is quite different from the equivalent process in people. For most of us, caring for our teeth and gums has been part of our daily routine for as long as we can remember. Consequently, a person's visit to the dentist is relatively brief and does not require sedation. In contrast, veterinary dentistry is considerably more involved, time-consuming and complex. Cleaning a pet's teeth requires general anesthesia, and consequently a day of hospitalization. The skills of several people, from veterinarians to veterinary technicians and animal attendants are required for each dental procedure.
The first part of dental cleaning requires the removal of tartar. This is done with a hand scaler. Next, an ultrasonic scaler is used to clean above the gumline while a curette cleans and smooths the teeth under the gumline in the crevices. Then your pet's teeth are polished and the gums are washed with an anti-bacterial solution to help delay tartar build-up.
Prevention: The Best Medicine
Dental care does not end with a visit to your veterinarian. You need to continue your veterinarian's good work at home. Brushing your pet's teeth is an important part of home dental care. The staff at Lakeside Animal Hospital can show you the proper method of brushing your pet's teeth.