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Cat and Dog Dental Health FAQs

Understanding how to care for your pet’s dental health is important for their overall health and comfort. Without proper dental care, your four-legged friend can suffer from painful periodontal problems and organ disease. Read on to learn more about dental disease in pets and how you can prevent them from suffering with this major health issue.

Question: What is dental disease in pets?

Answer: Dental disease is an umbrella term that includes many conditions that affect a pet’s teeth and surrounding structures. Some of the most common dental problems seen in pets include:

  • Gingivitis — Inflammation of the gum tissue that is typically triggered by the presence of oral bacteria
  • Stomatitis — Inflammation of the oral tissues which can be extremely painful for pets
  • Periodontal disease — Infection and associated inflammation of the periodontium (i.e., the tissues surrounding the tooth) that can eventually lead to tooth loss
  • Tooth fractures — Fractured teeth may be painful due to pulp exposure and can also become infected. Extraction may be needed. 
  • Tooth-root abscesses — As bacteria pool around tooth roots, infection can eat away at the affected tooth.
  • Resorptive lesions — Resorptive lesions, which are more common in cats, form in the enamel and can cause extreme pain. 

Q: How likely is my pet to have dental disease?

A: Dental disease is one of the most common conditions seen in pets, so your pet is highly likely to have some dental disease, which is categorized into grades. Most pets—up to 85%—have at least grade I or II dental disease by age 3. This means that the pet will have gingivitis, plaque, and possibly tartar, and will need a professional dental cleaning to reduce gum inflammation and oral infection.

Q: What are signs of dental disease in pets?

A: About 60% of the tooth and its surrounding structures are hidden by gum tissue, so dental disease can be difficult to spot unless issues above the gum line are visible. Visible dental disease signs in pets include:

  • Bad breath
  • Brown, grey, and yellow tartar buildup on the teeth
  • Red, swollen, receding, or bleeding gums
  • Excessive, ropey, or bloody saliva
  • Loose, worn, broken, or missing teeth
  • Refusal to eat hard food and treats
  • Reluctance to play with chew toys
  • Chewing on one side of the mouth
  • Dropping food while eating
  • Lump on the muzzle below the eye

Keep in mind that pets often hide disease signs until the disease has advanced and is causing significant pain, so periodic assessments of your furry pal’s health by a veterinarian are critical for detecting early-stage disease.

Q: How can I assess my pet’s dental health?

A: Once you learn the signs of dental disease, you can monitor your pet’s dental health at home. Check your pet’s teeth, gums, tongue, and other oral tissues daily—ideally when brushing their teeth—or flip up a lip to check for gingivitis, tartar, and other abnormalities. 

Anesthesia is required to thoroughly assess your pet’s dental health, both for the detailed oral exam and dental X-rays. General anesthesia not only eliminates any pain, stress, and anxiety for your pet, but also helps our team safely complete a comprehensive oral health assessment. While your pet is anesthetized, we probe around each tooth, searching for hidden pockets of infection, pain, or disease, and checking for any abnormalities. Full-mouth dental X-rays allow us to evaluate the entire tooth and surrounding oral structures to identify retained tooth roots, abscesses, bone loss, and other hidden issues.

Q: How can my pet’s dental disease be treated?

A: Once dental disease develops, no amount of toothbrushing will eradicate tartar—the only way to remove tartar and associated oral bacteria is through a professional dental cleaning. Some dental disease cases require extraction to remove the diseased teeth, which makes the pet feel much better upon recovery.

Q: How can I prevent dental disease in my pet?

A: To prevent dental disease in your pet, you should take care of their oral health from the day you bring them home. Pair regular oral exams and professional dental cleanings with a daily at-home care plan that consists of:

  • Toothbrushing — Brushing your pet’s teeth daily removes plaque before it hardens into tartar. A quick scrub will knock down oral bacteria and minimize dental disease risk.
  • Appropriate chews and toys — Too-hard chew toys can damage your pet’s teeth, so avoid bones, antlers, and hooves. Sticks and tennis balls can also be harmful to your pet’s oral health.
  • Approved dental health products — Dental health products included on the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s accepted product list are proven to reduce plaque and tartar accumulation, and effectively battle dental disease. We carry many dental home care products in our hospital, and you can also check our online pharmacy. 

A comprehensive dental care regimen includes at-home care paired with professional dental cleanings—contact our Island Animal Hospital team to schedule your pet’s oral exam and dental cleaning. By working together, we can ensure your pet’s teeth stay healthy and pain-free.

By |2024-02-14T23:52:44+00:00February 10th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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