February 12th
Pet Dental Health - part 2

In last week's blog Dr. Sarah Thompson shared some insights about pet dentistry. This week,  learn how to examine your pet's mouth and look for signs that could indicate potential dental problems.  

What is the best way to keep my pet’s teeth and gums healthy?

As veterinarians we ask pet owners to look after their pet’s teeth the same as they look after their own oral health. The best way to keep those teeth pearly white and clean is to brush daily. Ask your veterinarian for advice and resources on dental home care and they will be happy to partner with you in the best interest of your pet. Additionally, examine your pet’s mouth on a regular basis. If you find problems such as red gums, broken teeth or a foul smell, your pet should be examined by your veterinarian in order to formulate a treatment plan.

Should I be checking my pet’s teeth and gums regularly and if so, what do I look for?

As early as the first veterinary visit your veterinarian will provide you with a guide to your pet’s dental health. Typically, this involves discussions about dental home care, dental diets and monitoring your pet’s oral health at home between veterinary visits. Resources can be provided by your veterinarian and there are many great websites that provide images of normal teeth as well as common problems. When checking your pet’s mouth the teeth should be free of calculus and fractures with a smooth gum line. When combined with a daily dental homecare program, you will be an excellent partner in your pet’s oral health. Be sure to report concerns, such as masses, halitosis or broken teeth to your veterinarian in order to address problems in a timely fashion. 

Signs that there might be a tooth problem or when are dental extractions necessary?

The most common signs of dental problems are foul breath, drooling, calculus build-up or loose teeth. Owners of small or brachycephalic breeds should be aware that their dogs are more prone to dental disease due to crowding. Much like our own trip to the dentist, regular examinations of the oral cavity are an essential component of screening for problems in our pets. If you have a concern your pet may have a tooth problem, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. It is important to note that your pet will need dental x-rays in order to properly diagnose the problem and that pets are very good at hiding signs of illness, including oral pain.

What is gum disease and how does it affect my pet?

Our pets are dependent on us to care for their teeth and without daily brushing a sticky coating of bacteria will cover the teeth leading to plaque. This bacteria biofilm also enter the area between the teeth and gums, called the gingival sulcus, causing an inflammatory reaction that we know as gingivitis. Left untreated gingivitis can progress to periodontal disease and your pet will begin to lose bone and tissue supports for their teeth. Pets are just as prone to gingivitis as people and, if treated properly, it is entirely reversible. Symptoms of gingivitis include red and swollen gums and yearly dental examinations are an essential component of your pet’s oral health.


By Dr. Sarah Thompson