How often do you go to the dentist?
How often do you go to the dentist? I know my dentist recommends twice yearly cleanings and three times a day brushing and flossing as the foundation for oral and tooth care. Then there is the importance of proper nutrition, beverage choices and the all important reminder NOT to chew ice...which I confess I love to do! So, now that I have you thinking about those pearly whites, take a look over at Fido or Fifi, your faithful companion resting near by as you surf the web and peruse the latest KAH blog. Did you brush their teeth today?
If you did, I am very impressed and want to be the first to say that you are doing better than me! I find myself confessing to clients that although I do recommend and fully believe that brushing our pet's teeth is beneficial, my busy days often leave little time for this important practice. Having said that, lets talk a bit more about the importance of dental care in our dogs and cats.
Most dog's and cat's need a dental cleaning by three years of age. Unlike our dental cleanings, Fido and Fifi require general anesthesia in order to perform a proper dental scaling and polishing of the teeth. During the dental exam/cleaning, your veterinarian will check gingival pocket depth, periodontal integrity, and tooth structure. Sometimes exam findings will require dental x-ray to better investigate what a tooth looks like beneath the gum line, just as in human dentistry.
Feline dental care is perhaps the most overlooked and under-treated area in small animal medicine. Cats are affected by many of the same dental problems that affect dogs (periodontal disease, fractured teeth, and oral masses) in addition to special syndromes like tooth resorption and oropharyngeal inflammation or stomatitis. Dogs and Cats can also develop cancer in their mouths, the most common form being squamous cell carcinoma. Of course there are many causes for oral swellings which are not malignant such as reactions to foreign bodies, problems from dental disease, tumor-like masses, infections, and growths in the nose or throat. Biopsies are essential for diagnosis and differentiation of these findings.
Regular dental exams and cleanings are as important as vaccinations in maintaining health in our pets. Conditions that would send us running to our dentist for relief are often endured with no symptoms because Fido and Fifi simply don't know of any other option. Their survival instinct makes them hard-wired to eat, even when they have painful teeth. Fido and Fifi may continue to empty the food bowl leaving good owners unaware of problems that if caught early can be easily remedied with medical treatment.
For helpful tips on how we can help you keep your pets teeth healthy, please call or ask during your next visit. In the meantime, while your brushing and flossing, and perhaps bleaching, remember Fido and Fifi need dental care too!
Photos from Dr. Jan Bellows