Preventing Periodontal Disease in Pets
By Dr. Jaclyn Erwin
Dental disease is the most common major health problem veterinarians see in our dog and cat patients. As a pet parent, you may notice minor tartar build up and red, swollen gums in the early stages of dental disease. If left untreated, tartar and plaque (bacteria) accumulation results in periodontal disease causing gingivitis, bleeding, bone loss, and oral pain. Severe periodontal disease can lead to damage to the kidneys, heart muscles, and liver.
But all is not lost. The key to management of gum disease is prevention. Excellent oral health can be maintained with daily brushing, chewing activities with products awarded the veterinary oral health council seal of approval (VOHC), and professional cleaning and scaling by your veterinarian.
If your veterinarian says your pet needs a dental cleaning, general anesthesia is essential for proper tooth-by-tooth evaluation and treatment. There is a wide array of safe and effective anesthetics and monitoring equipment that makes anesthesia as safe as possible. During the dental procedure, a full visual examination of the mouth and teeth is performed, pocket depths (i.e distance between the gum tissue and its attachment to the tooth) are measured, full mouth dental x-rays showing the inside of each tooth and the root that lies below the gum line are completed, as well as cleaning above and below the gumline with an ultrasonic scaler. With all this information, your veterinarian can make proper decisions and treat any problems found.
Dogs and cats do not need to suffer in pain and discomfort with untreated dental disease. My own personal chihuahua who I adopted at 8 years of age had moderate dental disease when we first brought her home. With her first dental cleaning she did require 2 extractions. However, with subsequent dental procedures performed every 8 months, she has not needed any further extractions and is more comfortable with oral exams.
With the help of thorough examinations and dental care, our pets can keep their teeth and mouths happy and healthy. Participating in our Pet Care Rewards Program may also offer you a benefit.
Call us for more information or to schedule an appointment for an oral exam feel free to call us at 703-820-2557.
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