Dental Health Month
Did you know that your pets need dental care too?! And not just your canine friends, cats need dental care as well! There are ways that we can help prevent tarter build up, cavities, abscesses, etc. If you start brushing your pets teeth at an early age, this will help make them more comfortable as they start to age. They make toothpaste specifically for cats and dogs that you can purchase through your veterinarian as well as at specific pet care facilities.
A healthy mouth means a healthy pet. Dental disease in cats and dogs is very common and it can be extremely dangerous. If left untreated, it can lead to major problems such as Congestive Heart Failure, Kidney Failure, etc. Infections from decaying teeth may also spread directly to the sinus cavities or the eyes.
Common Dental Problems
Tooth Root Abscess:
- Severe infection that develops around the root of a tooth. This occurs from broken or traumatized teeth. When bacteria enter the exposed root, it can cause an abscess. A tooth root abscess can develop in association with "periodontal disease". One of the tell-tale signs of a pet having a tooth root abscess tends to be a sore that forms below their eye or somewhere on their face.
- Periodontal Disease begins when bacteria form plaque that sticks to the teeth. Minerals from the saliva harden the plaque into dental calculus (tarter), and these minerals firmly attach to the teeth. The real problem develops as plaque and calculus spread under the gum line. The bacteria then secretes toxins that contribute to tissue damage. 85% of pets have periodontal disease by age 3.
Broken/ Fractured Teeth
- These are very common especially with dogs. Your pets teeth can become fractured or broken sue to trauma or chewing on hard objects (bones, or if your dog is special like mine, rocks!)After the tooth is fractured, bacteria from the mouth will infect the tooth, which can then lead to an abscessed tooth.
- This occurs when a baby tooth does not fall out, therefore it occupies the space meant for the permanent tooth, forcing the permanent tooth to erupt at an abnormal angle or position. Retained teeth tend to be more common in small breed dogs that have "pushed-in" faces. They can cause crowding among teeth and increase the potential of food becoming trapped between the teeth. These teeth can lead to tarter deposits, tooth decay, gingivitis, and periodontal disease.
If your pet starts displaying these signs, its a good indicator that you may need to get their mouth checked:
- Thickening and Bleeding of gums - Noticeable gum growth over teeth
- Pockets developing in gums - Areas of inflammation
- Growth or tissue mass formation - Bad breath
- Drooling - Reluctance to eat
Oral masses can either be benign or malignant. Some can be caused by infection in the gums. Prognosis of an oral mass is directly related to the type of tumor. With treatment, benign tumors usually result in a normal lifespan (this is not always the case). Malignant tumors usually need aggressive surgery and/or radiation and chemo.