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Imagine going years without brushing your teeth. Imagine you have a cracked tooth and it splits apart every time you chew with it. Imagine another tooth is broken off at the gum line and only the root remains. Imagine yet another tooth has a cavity with an abscess in it and is draining pus into your mouth. None of these scenarios sound like much fun do they? Yet this is what many pets go through every day due to lack of proper dental care.
Dogs and cats both need dental care just as people do. While dogs and cats are not prone to the same types of cavities as people, they do have other dental issues to worry about. Cracked
teeth and tooth fractures are common in dogs. Fractures can lead to painful root exposure and abscesses. Cats are also prone to their own type of tooth problems, called resorptive lesions. These can cause cavity-like areas on the tooth, most commonly along the gum line. They can be hard to spot, but can be extremely painful for the cat. Both dogs and cats can also get gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums. Gingivitis can lead to infection, periodontal disease and eventual tooth loss.
Depending on the condition of your pet’s teeth, your pet may need to have his teeth professionally cleaned. The cleaning is done under a general anesthetic at the veterinary hospital. It’s recommended that preanesthetic blood tests be done for all pets to uncover hidden health problems before your pet is anesthetized. They will be given a complete physical exam as well. Dental radiographs may be performed to check the condition of the tooth roots and underlying bone. Your pet may need to have teeth extracted if a tooth is damaged or if they have severe gum disease. Pain medication will be given to your pet to help ease any discomfort and pets normally go home the same day.
After having your pet’s teeth cleaned, you may wish to consider brushing your pet’s teeth daily, or several times weekly. Your veterinarian can help show you how to do this. The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) also has an informative video covering pet dental care and brushing at Dental Health: How to Brush Your Pet’s Teeth
Dogs and cats depend on us to keep them healthy and happy. Proper dental care is an important part of caring for your pet and your pet will appreciate being able to eat and “smile” without pain.