WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT TEETH?
Dental disease in pets is common, yet frequently undiagnosed and/or untreated, affecting about 80% of dogs and 70% of cats by three years of age. We need to do better for our pets because:
· Dental disease can be severely painful to your pet. Tooth decay, gingivitis, and periodontal disease all HURT!
· Dental disease can lead to tooth loss.
· Gingivitis allows bacteria into your pet's bloodstream which can lead to chronic problems affecting vital organs such as heart, liver, kidneys, and brain.
· Oral problems can negatively affect your pet's immune system.
· Serious to life-threatening complications can develop from untreated dental disease. This can include infection (sometimes progressing to serious bone infection), oronasal fistula (hole from mouth into nasal passage), and jaw fracture to name a few.
· Healthy teeth and gums mean better breath.
After a dental, the number of clients who comment that their pet is behaving like a youngster again is absolutely astounding. This is because of improved overall health and relief from chronic pain.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY PET HAS A DENTAL PROBLEM?
Schedule an appointment for an oral exam with your veterinarian. He or she is a trained professional and can spot problems that may not be apparent to the casual observer, even if you are an attentive owner. Keep in mind, however, that approximately 50% of dental disease is below the gum line and not visible to the naked eye. In addition, not all pets will tolerate a thorough oral evaluation. Based on exam results, further evaluation may be advised (i.e. dental with oral exam under anesthesia including digital dental radiographs). You can also check for these possible warning signs:
· Bad breath
· Brown or otherwise discolored teeth
· Red gums
· Loose teeth or missing teeth
· Broken teeth
· Baby teeth that never fell out
· Bleeding or discharge from the mouth
· Nasal problems
· Facial swelling
· Gum growths
· Trouble eating*
*Please note that pets in pain from mouth disease, even if the pain is SEVERE, will RARELY have trouble eating so do not wait until you see this sign to seek help.
WHY IS DIGITAL DENTAL RADIOGRAPHY SO IMPORTANT?
We've gone digital! In an effort to provide the most up-to-date patient care, we transitioned from traditional film-type x-rays to digital x-rays. Since making the switch back in January 2008, we have been overwhelmed by the positive results. Digital radiography (i.e. digital x-ray) provides clearer, faster images with many other advantages.
Expanding on this digital success, we have also implemented a digital dental x-ray system. This is helping us better diagnose and treat dental disease in cats and dogs. As mentioned above, 50% of dental disease is below the gum line and not visible to the naked eye. This means that if radiographs are not evaluated where indicated, your pet is not receiving the best care! Here at the Michigan Animal Dental Specialists, we always strive to provide the best, and therefore find that digital dental radiography is an essential part of our dental practice. Radiographs are performed under anesthesia, are noninvasive, and images are available for review within seconds.
WHAT CAN I DO TO PROVIDE DENTAL CARE AT HOME?
We love this question and we applaud you for asking! If your pet had a dental, we will discuss this with you at the time of hospital discharge. Otherwise, you may find our dental home care recommendations helpful. We would also be happy to discuss this with you directly, so don't hesitate to call if you have any further questions.