In both humans and animals, one’s dental health is very deeply connected with one’s general health. This means that general health issues that go unresolved can create dental health problems, and dental health issues that go unresolved can create general health problems. It is for this reason that it is so important to prevent dental health issues wherever possible and resolve dental health problems wherever necessary.
Needless to say, preventative dental care can be far more comfortable, and affordable, than restorative or emergency dental care. In many cases, your pet’s veterinarian will be able to detect the early signs of dental problems so that they can be quickly resolved before they have a chance to exacerbate into far worse problems. This is why the La Crosse veterinary team recommends that you have your pet’s teeth and gums checked and cleaned at least once every year.
About Veterinary Dental Services
Pets can suffer from many of the same dental issues that humans suffer from, including:
- Cracked and broken teeth and roots
- Periodontal (gum) disease
- Abscesses and infected teeth
- Cysts and tumors in the mouth
- Misalignment of teeth and bite
- Broken jaw
- Palate defects
- Cavities (though these are less frequent in pets than in humans)
Veterinary dental services include the cleaning, adjusting, filing, extracting and repairing of a pet’s teeth, as well as any other necessary aspects of establishing and maintaining good oral health. Your pet’s veterinarian will first perform a thorough oral examination of your pet’s mouth, looking for abnormalities and overall dental health condition. In some cases, he may also recommend taking x-rays of your pet’s mouth in order to evaluate the health of tooth roots and jaw bones–especially if your pet is suffering from general health issues that can contribute to dental health problems, like diabetes.
Just as is the case with humans, pets have harmful oral bacteria in their mouth that make up plaque–the sticky film that coats the teeth. Left unhandled, plaque can harden into tartar, which can move below the gumline and cause infection that can then lead to periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is far more common in pets than in humans, and is actually the most common dental issue that cats and dogs suffer from. Most cats and dogs display at least some mild signs of periodontal disease by the time they are three years of age, and obviously this condition can continue to worsen over time if left untreated and unresolved. Where periodontal disease is left untreated and unresolved, pets can not only suffer from oral pain and problems, they can also suffer from extensive general health problems like kidney, liver and heart muscle changes.
Having your pet’s oral cavity examined and their teeth cleaned at least once every year is essential to preserving their dental and general health, but there are some cases wherein your pet’s dental health should be checked more frequently. For example, you should have your pet’s veterinarian verify their dental health sooner than their yearly dental examination if you notice that your pet is suffering from:
- Bad breath
- Loose or broken teeth
- Extra teeth (such as retained baby teeth that are pushed in front of or behind adult teeth)
- Discolored teeth
- Tartar-covered teeth
- Abnormal chewing or drooling
- Inability to keep food in the mouth (dropping food from the mouth while eating)
- Reduced appetite
- Discomfort with eating or inability or refusal to eat
- Pain in or around the mouth
- Bleeding in the mouth
- Swelling in or around the mouth
It’s important to note that some pets–even extremely calm, friendly and loving ones, can become very irritable when they are experiencing dental problems. This means that if you begin to poke around in your pet’s mouth to ascertain whether there is an obvious dental issue, there is the possibility that you will be unintentionally bitten due to oral pain. For this reason, it is recommended that whenever you suspect that a dental health issue may be occurring, you allow your pet’s veterinarian to sedate your pet and perform a thorough dental examination. Sedation is important, because while you understand why a dentist needs to perform certain examination and cleaning procedures, your pet doesn’t understand what is occurring and can try to escape or even bite the veterinarian in fear. Anesthesia will allow your pet to receive the necessary dental care without stress and pain, and it will also ensure the veterinarian’s safety while performing the dental examination, cleaning and other dental procedures.
For more information about veterinary dental services performed at La Crosse, contact us today.