By Sheila Fitzpatrick, DVM
September is dental awareness month in our veterinary practice. It’s a time we offer free dental examinations, as well as discounted dental procedures. So many folks ask me, “Why do I need to have my pets teeth cleaned?”
There are many reasons to have your pet’s teeth cleaned, just like your own.
First, have you noticed that your pet has bad breath? Bad breath can be an early indicator of a broken, abscessed or diseased tooth, as well as diseased gums. By cleaning the teeth, we are able to identify pockets between the gums and the tooth, as well as resorptive lesions, which are similar to our human cavities.
Second, dental disease can cause more major systemic disease if not addressed, as many nasty bacteria can enter the blood stream through the mouth and go to the organs, causing diseases like early kidney failure and even endocarditis in the heart. By cleaning the teeth, again, we identify problems before they get so bad that your pet is in an irreversible state of disease.
Third, did you know that periodontal disease can set in a pet’s mouth as early as a year old? This is because pets cannot brush their own teeth.
By cleaning your pet’s teeth, you remove that heavy plaque that harbors bacteria, and can clean up under the gums, to prevent periodontal disease from progressing.
Fourth, your pets are very stoic. They do not show pain. Many pets have very loose, diseased teeth far in the back of their mouth that you cannot identify with just a physical examination. With your pet sedated during a dental procedure, we are able to deep clean all the teeth and again probe for pockets, in addition to taking dental radiographs, which will for sure identify those painful, problem teeth your pet cannot tell you about!
This September, think about scheduling a dental exam with your veterinarian. Ask about teeth cleaning, and if the time is right, schedule that cleaning and keep your pets healthy!