February is National Pet Dental Month. We consider dental health a priority focus at Lawndale for many reasons:
- Dental disease can have systemic (body-wide) consequences
- Dental disease can be painful
- Dental disease can make your pet not want to eat
- Dental disease can lead to oral and tooth root infections
- Dental disease is something we can actually do something about and fix!
- Dental health is something you as pet owners can work on at home, all year long
- And of course, the one you probably will notice easily at home – correcting dental problems makes your pet’s breath smell so much better!
One of the important aspects about dental health is to keep in mind that what you see on the surface of the teeth is really not the whole picture. Once the teeth develop a plaque coating from bacterial secretions, salivary components can then adhere to the film and harden into calculus. This process not only happens on the tooth surface that we can easily visualize; it also can occur under the gum line. As this process occurs under the gum line, an inflammatory process can set in that starts to impact the soft tissues and bone that hold the teeth in place. This is called periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease can progress from stage 1 to 4, with 4 being the most severe. As you can imagine, depending on the severity, periodontal disease can have a range of consequences (gingivitis, oral pain, oral bleeding, decreased appetite, behavioral changes, or even an impact on other sites in the body such as the heart and kidneys, to name a few).
As pet owners, you have the ability to minimize or even prevent dental and periodontal disease through home dental care. Once periodontal disease is suspected, the best way to evaluate and address the problem is to have your pet’s teeth cleaned under general anesthesia. This will allow thorough examination and evaluation, as well as in depth teeth cleaning, including under the gum line. (Read more about canine dental cleanings and feline dental cleanings).
Interested in learning more about dental health? Visit our ‘Paws to Protect – Dental Health’ section, and our Pet Health information on canine dental disease and feline dental disease.
So if your pet has healthy teeth – keep them healthy through teeth brushing (dog, cat) and other home dental care options. If you suspect your pet has any dental issues then we encourage you to talk with our doctors. And finally, if you already know your dog or cat needs a dental cleaning, Lawndale is offering 20% off dental cleanings during the month of February in honor of National Pet Dental Health Month!
Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS
American Veterinary Dental College information for pet owners