February is dental health month!
Oral health is an extremely important but often overlooked part of our pets’ wellbeing. In addition to the pain and discomfort caused by having bad teeth, when a mouth is full of disease, the bacteria from the mouth can actually enter the bloodstream causing sepsis (a bacterial infection in the circulating blood), and also damage other organs including the heart.
Because our pets can’t tell us when their mouths are hurting, many pets are suffering from dental pain in silence. Many people think if a pet is eating that means their teeth aren’t hurting them – this isn’t necessarily true. Most animals will continue to eat even though it may be extremely uncomfortable for them. Signs of bad teeth are often subtle and can include drooling, dropping food, halitosis (bad breath), pawing at the mouth, head shaking, and jaw chattering.
This February we’re getting owners to “flip the lip” and take a closer look at their pet’s teeth. Visible calculus (also called tartar, the thick yellow-brown material that sticks to dirty teeth) is a big problem. This calculus sits not only on the teeth where we can see it, but also underneath the gumline. This eventually leads to gingivitis (or inflamed gums) – which we can see as redness, swelling and sometimes even bleeding along the gumline. Over time, this inflammation can actually damage the bone and ligaments that hold teeth in place, causing loose teeth and tooth loss, which is very painful.
Some pets (especially small dogs, and pets like pugs or Persians with squishy faces) are more predisposed to dental disease. The best way to prevent or slow progression of calculus in your pet is to brush their teeth daily. Other products are available to help with oral health, including dental diets (which act to “brush the teeth” every time they eat), dental treats/chews, and mouth sprays and gels. If your pet has visible calculus, gingivitis, and even loose teeth, a professional dental cleaning is required to properly address and treat the dental disease.
If you have any concerns regarding your pet’s oral health, please don’t hesitate to ask us. We offer dental examinations at no charge where we can evaluate your pet’s oral health and work with you to develop an appropriate treatment plan. To celebrate dental health month, all dental procedures are 10% off throughout the month of February.