Veterinary medicine is advancing more and more every day, unfortunately dental health is an area that our four legged companions often miss out on the best quality of care available to them. A major reason for this is our pets often show very subtle, if any, signs of discomfort when it comes to their teeth. Signs you can look for include halitosis (bad breath), loose teeth, building tartar, redness along the gum line, abnormal chewing, avoidance of letting you touch their face, and in the most severe cases loss of appetite and/or weight. Be aware that when it comes to their teeth our pets are often much tougher than us about showing pain, and owners often only recognize comfort level as an issue after the patient has gone through a dental and healed their mouth.
If you suspect that your pet may need a dental cleaning the first step is to have them evaluated by a veterinarian. A preliminary exam will begin the basic assessment of your pet’s mouth and allow your veterinarian to give you a rough estimate of the cost that will be involved in the dental services available. Until your pet is under anesthesia and the built up tartar is removed, it is impossible to fully assess the patient’s teeth for pocketing around the teeth and other issues that would compromise teeth to the point of needing surgical removal. If the dental disease is significant and your veterinarian expects to be removing teeth they may prescribe antibiotics.
As with most things, the best medicine is a prophylactic approach by using dental treats, water additives, brushing teeth, and having veterinary dental care done early before major problems develop. When shopping for dental products it can be helpful to look for the V.O.H.C. (Veterinary Oral Health Council), this is an independent organization and their seal of approval means the product meets the claims it makes. Brushing is one of the best ways to keep your pet’s teeth healthy, but can be difficult and to really make a difference you need to brush at least every other day. Be sure to use toothpaste labeled for use in animals, and start slow when introducing the process by first just letting your pet taste the toothpaste then slowly building up to a full brushing.
Dental health affects not just the mouth, but the rest of your pet’s body as well. Dental tartar harbors bacteria below the gum line which can cause gastrointestinal upset, liver issues, heart valve dysfunction, and glucose regulation issues in diabetics. With severe dental disease, patients can experience bone loss around the roots of teeth which can lead to infection moving into sinus cavities and in our smaller patients make them at risk for jaw fractures.
Animal Hospital of Montgomery will no longer have dental month in February or September. We believe every month is dental month. We are currently offering $20 dental exams & reasonable prices for the dental procedures. So, if you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s dental health, please schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians, and together we can make a dental care plan to keep your pet happy and healthy.