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Would you let years go by between visits to the dentist? Probably not! Your pet's dental health is just as important to his or her overall health as your dental health is to your general health.
Why Dental Care?
Dental disease doesnít affect just the mouth. It can lead to more serious health problems including heart, lung and kidney disease, which makes it all the more important that you provide your pets with proper dental care from the start.
Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissue surrounding the teeth that takes hold in progressive stages.
It starts out as a bacterial film called plaque. The bacteria attach to the teeth. When the bacteria die they
can be calcified by calcium in saliva. This forms a hard, rough substance called tartar or calculus which
allows more plaque to accumulate.
Initially, plaque is soft and brushing or chewing hard food and toys can dislodge it. If left to spread, plaque can lead to gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums, causing them to become red and swollen, and to bleed easily.
In the final stages of periodontal disease, the tissues surrounding the tooth are destroyed, the bony socket holding the tooth in erodes and the tooth becomes loose. This is a very painful process for your four-legged friend, but these problems can be averted before they even start.
Dental Care at the Veterinary Practice
Veterinarians can perform a basic oral examination on patients that are awake. However, a short-lasting anesthetic is required in order to provide a complete and thorough examination as well as dental cleanings.
The AAHA Dental Care Guidelines recommend regular oral examinations and dental cleanings, under general anesthesia, for all adult dogs and cats. AAHA recommends these procedures at least annually starting at one year of age for cats and small-breed dogs, and at two years of age for large-breed dogs.
The guidelines further recommend the following:
Anesthesia monitoring ó During anesthesia, the monitoring and recording of your petís vital signs (such as body temperature, heart rate, and respiration, as well as other important factors) is important. This helps ensure the safety of your pet while undergoing anesthesia.
Dental radiographs ó Radiographs (x-rays) of the teeth are needed periodically in order to completely evaluate your petís oral health. X-rays aid the veterinarian greatly in detecting abnormalities that cannot be detected under examination alone. In some cases, x-rays can confirm the need for extraction of teeth that are loose or badly infected.
Scaling & Polishing ó Veterinarians are advised to use similar instruments as human dentists to remove plaque and calculus from your petís teeth. To smooth out any scratches in the tooth enamel, polishing with a special paste is also recommended.
Fluoride/sealants ó The application of an anti-plaque substance, such as a fluoride treatment and/or a barrier sealant is also advised. This can help strengthen and desensitize teeth as well as decrease future plaque.
Home Dental Care Your petís dental care doesnít rest with your veterinarian alone. As a pet owner, you play a pivotal role in helping ensure your petís dental health through regular teeth brushing.
Remember... pets can live longer, healthier lives if oral health care is managed and maintained throughout their lives. In fact, proper dental care may add as much as five years to your pet's life! Talk to your veterinarian about developing a dental care plan for your furry friend.
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