February is Dental Health Month. This special month is a chance to raise awareness of the importance of good oral health in order to prevent periodontal disease in our special family pets. Here at Josey Ranch Pet Hospital, we are offering 10% off dental prophylactic cleanings and treatments throughout the month of February.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is the inflammation and/or infection of the gums and bone around your pet's teeth. It is causes by bacteria that accumulate in the mouth, forming soft plague that later turns into tartar. If untreated, periodontal disease will lead to tooth loss. Studies show that 85% of dogs and cats over the age of 4 years old have some degree of Periodontal disease.
What are the signs of Periodontal Disease?
- Bad breath
- Red swollen gums
- Yellow-brown crust near the gum line
- Loose or missing teeth
- Decreased appetite
- Difficulty chewing or eating
- Mouth pain
- Irritability or depression
How is Periodontal Disease diagnosed?
The easiest and most common way to diagnose periodontal disease is to simply look in the mouth. However, to fully assess the extent of periodontal disease, the animal needs to be anesthesitized and have all of the teeth checked for mobility and gums for pocket formation. One of the best diagnostic tools to tell us the severity of periodontal disease is Dental Radiographs. This allows us to see the tooth root and bone structure that lies under the gum tissue where we cannot see.
How is Periodontal Disease treated and prevented?
The best prevention and treatment for periodontal is a good dental care program. This would include regular visits to Josey Ranch Pet Hospital which include an oral exam, veterinary dental cleaning as advised, and daily home dental care. We now have a new vaccine for dogs to aid in the fight of periodontal disease, Porphyromonas bacterin. This is a vaccine against the three bacteria found to be the cause of periodontal disease. It is not going to stop the tartar formation or replace daily brushing but it will help dogs fight off the bacteria that cause the boney changes in periodontal disease.
What happens if Periodontal Disease is untreated?
If periodontal disease if left untreated it will cause irreversible damage to the teeth and supporting gum and bone. It can be very painful and can lead to loose teeth, abscesses, and bone loss and infection. As bacterial growth continues to increase, the bacteria may enter the bloodstream. This can cause infection of the heart valves, liver, kidneys or even encephalitis.
What is done during a dental cleaning at Josey Ranch Pet Hospital?
- Lab work is done to assess the overall health of the patient.
- The patient is anesthetized.
- At the owners request, dental radiographs will be taken to assess the health of all of the teeth.
- The mouth will be flushed with a solution to kill the bacteria.
- The teeth will be cleaned with a handheld ultrasonic scaler. All calculus is removed from above and below the gumline. This can only be done if the animal is under anesthesia.
- The teeth will be polished to remove any microscopic scratches.
- The teeth and gums will be inspected for any signs of disease.
- The mouth will again be flushed with an antibacterial solution.
- Any abnormalities or additional therapy will be recorded on the dental chart.
- We will then determine the best follow-up and home dental care for you pet.
How often does my pet need their teeth cleaned?
The frequency of dental cleaning by a veterinarian will vary depending of age, breed, oral anatomy, chewing habits, diet, and home dental care of each patient. Most animals will need their teeth cleaned every 6-12 months once they reach adulthood. We recommend to have an oral exam by one of our doctors, every 6 months.
What is ahead in the future of Veterinary Dentistry?
Veterinary dentistry is becoming more sophisticated. Pets can have the same procedures as people: root canals, crowns and even braces. Some veterinarians specialize in dentistry and are board certified. New products are continually becoming available to help veterinarians and owners provide the best possible oral care for their pets. Dental health month is a way to remind you of the importance of proper dental care. Make sure good dental care is part of your pet's present and future. Come see us today!
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