February is Pet Dental Health month

Ponca City Now - February 5, 2015 10:41 am

By Dr. Margaret Bowman, DVM

February is National Pet Dental Month. As a reminder, we would like to inform you on a few dental basics. Just like people, our pets require dental care as a part of their overall health status. Dental disease can cause discomfort and oral pain. It can also affect the pet’s heart, liver and kidneys, causing overall body disease.

At home, owners can check for tarter on premolars and molars, along with smelling their pet’s breath. Bad breath is a common sign of dental disease. Due to instinct, dogs, cats, and pocket pets normally do not express the pain felt caused by dental disease. During yearly exams, a veterinarian will check the condition of your pet’s oral health and may suggest a dental procedure.

Eighty percent of dogs and cats that have not received any dental care before the age of three have periodontal disease with some type of bone loss. Pets should begin to have at least regular yearly dental veterinary care at one year of age.

Every veterinary clinic varies in what is included in their “dental cleaning”. Dental procedures begin with a dental exam. Anesthesia for dental procedures is now a standard of care and should always be done before any dental procedure. Depending on the history and condition of the pet, pre-anesthetic bloodwork may be suggested or required. From this point on, procedures vary from clinic to clinic and case by case.

Often, calculus or tarter is removed and the periodontal pockets of the gum are addressed. Calculus is then removed from under the gum line. The teeth are then polished using a dental hand piece. A fluoride treatment and sometimes a sealer is applied to the teeth. At this point, if indicated, dental X-rays are taken. Lastly, the veterinarian will decide what home-care is needed. Regular brushing of the teeth using veterinary toothpaste, dental specific food, treats, and toys are available to help manage your pet’s dental health at home.

In addition, horses also need regular dental care. Due to the difference in the width of a horse’s top and bottom jaw, their teeth do not wear evenly. This causes the horse to develop painful dental points that can lead to behavior problems, systemic disease, and weight-loss. Just like small animal pets, horses should have yearly dental exams and floating, if indicated.

Because February is National Pet Dental Month, most clinics will be offering “dental cleaning” and equine float specials during month of February. Please, take advantage of this normally once a year special and have your loved one’s teeth get the care they deserve. Proper dental care can improve quality of life and extend the overall lifespan of your pet.


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