Dental care for your dog or cat is important. The risk for gingivitis and periodontal disease is the same for animals as it is for people. More than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats aged three years or older suffer from periodontal disease. Animals feel the same pain of sore gums and toothache that we feel, so caring for your pet’s teeth is primarily to prevent pain.

Being proactive about animal dental care is essential to preventing oral health problems in pets. The same way you brush your teeth and visit a dentist regularly, your pet needs routine dental cleanings and examinations. Brushing your pet’s teeth at home is the ideal way to prevent plaque from forming, but realistically we know how unwilling some pets are to participate.

Plaque is a clear, thick substance consisting of saliva, bacteria and food particles that sticks to the teeth. Once plaque has formed, simple brushing or dental chews are insufficient to remove this plaque. Professional scaling and polishing is essential to removing plaque that can create pockets along the gum line. If not removed, an infection will result that will eventually overwhelm the body’s immune system. Periodontal disease has been linked to arthritis, fibrosis of the lungs, and infections in the heart valves, liver and kidneys. Remember, the mouth is the doorway to the rest of the body.

Bad breath and stained teeth are unappealing but many pet owners aren’t aware that these may be symptoms of serious gum disease. If the breath is particularly persistent, it can indicate gum disease is in its more serious stages. Gum disease does not happen overnight, but rather develops over a period of time. In addition to bad breath, symptoms of periodontal disease can eventually include missing teeth and loose teeth. Most animals will not stop eating because of a painful tooth, so just because they’re still eating does not mean that they have a healthy, pain-free mouth.

Burnet Road Animal Hospital offers a variety of options to meet the dental needs of patients. We have been performing routine dental cleanings under anesthetic for years and have teamed up with the Animal Dental Care team to include non-anesthetic dentals as an option as well. The Animal Dental Care team has been performing their unique approach to dentistry for over a decade and has worked with over 300 veterinary practices across the United States. They have developed a unique method that allows them to provide a thorough cleaning above and below the gum line, removing plaque from the inner and outer surfaces of teeth. The technicians build trust with the pets and never force or bully an animal into submission. Using a patient and compassionate approach, they slowly introduce instruments and techniques so even the most anxious pets are relaxed and at ease during the treatment. The technicians are able to scale teeth, remove plaque and tarter from under the gum line and polish the teeth without sedating the animal.

However, in some cases non-anesthetic dentistry may not be the best option. Pets with advanced oral health problems, such as resorbtive lesions, fractured teeth, gum disease or oral tumors may require anesthesia to remedy the situation. The advantages of doing an animal’s teeth under anesthetic are that it allows us to take digital X-rays to view the roots of the teeth, and we can measure the pockets around the teeth for signs of abscesses.

Both approaches to oral health care are fantastic and highly effective; which one depends on your pet’s individual needs and situation. Schedule a free dental consultation today to discuss which option is best for your furry friend!

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