February is Pet Dental Health Month! 15% Off Dental Cleanings For Your Pet
Did you know that pets suffer from dental disease, just like people do? One of the worst things about dental disease is the pain. Unfortunately, dogs and cats don’t always show how uncomfortable they are. Pets can have very serious dental problems such as infected teeth, jawbone abscesses or fractured teeth, but they can't say, “Ouch” or hold their paw to their jaw. Just because they can't show pain the same ways that people do doesn't mean it won't hurt just as much! Many times, when these problems are corrected, a pet’s demeanor will change for the better. They often become more social, interactive and playful because they are no longer in pain.
So, how do you check for dental disease in your pet? First, look for yellow or brown coloration on the teeth, not just on the front teeth, but also on the back teeth. While this sounds very simple, most pet owners never lift their pet’s lip and look inside the mouth, so "Lift The Lip"! Another good way to check for dental disease is to smell your pet's breath. It may not be minty fresh, but it should not be foul-smelling. If it is, bad bacteria are present, and may be working to infect the gums and even loosen the attachment of the teeth to the jawbone. This means that dental disease may have been progressing for months or years without you knowing about it.
A complete veterinary dental exam is necessary to properly assess the condition of the teeth, and discover any hidden dental disease. This assures that nothing is missed and any visible problems are properly diagnosed. Complete diagnosis may require dental x-rays, which are very similar to the x-rays taken at a human dentist's office. Veterinary dental exams include a history and physical exam, an oral survey checking for various abnormalities. After the external examination, a dental cleaning is performed. Dental cleanings involve ultrasonic scaling of the teeth and subgingival scaling, which removes plaque and calculus. Subgingival scaling is critically important. This involves removing tartar and debris from the part of the tooth you can’t see – the part under the gum. The subgingival area is the most vulnerable to infection. Following the exam and cleaning, a complete polishing is done to remove irregularities in the enamel. Polishing slows future accumulation of tartar, but nothing can fully prevent it, so annual dental cleanings and daily brushing are very strongly recommended.
The next step includes compete charting of every tooth and the surrounding gum and bone tissue. Using a dental probe, the gum line around each tooth is probed for pockets where infection may exist. The location and depth of each pocket is recorded in the medical record, just as you have seen done at your own dentist’s office. In some instances, a complete set of dental x-rays is taken. Dental x-rays have become vital to the standard of care in veterinary practice. Without them, it is impossible to find many of the most serious dental problems, such as fractured teeth, abscesses and developmental defects. Finally, a treatment plan is developed for the problems found. After consulting with you, the veterinarian and the technician will formulate an individual dental health plan, which may involve both treatments and instructions for home care. If the disease processes found are severe or progressive, follow-up care may be needed. We are more than happy to help you learn ways to provide at-home dental care to help keep your pet’s mouth and teeth healthy.
In order to perform a proper dental exam and treatment, it is essential that the pet be under anesthesia. Pets often don't understand that we are trying to help them, so the lengthy process of having their teeth cleaned would be very stressful if they were awake, and we would not be able to adequately assess and treat any dental issues we may find. Anesthesia today is very safe- we use the most modern protocols, safe and reliable sedatives, and anesthetic gases. We require all pets under anesthesia to be monitored by veterinary technicians trained in modern anesthesia protocols and monitoring. Care for a veterinary patient under anesthesia is very similar to that of a human patient, and we ensure that all technicians are well-versed and experienced in the latest techniques.
To ensure your pet’s health and comfort, lift your pet’s lip and look at the teeth, smell their breath, and be aware of any behavioral changes or difficulty eating that may be caused by oral pain. Then call us for a complete dental exam and treatment. This care is not expensive when compared to the expensive treatment for complications and pain associated with undiagnosed dental disease. In recognition of Pet Dental Health Month, we are offering 15% off dental cleanings during February.