Dental Health in Pets
Whenever dental health in pets is brought up, there usually is a wide array of opinions on what can be and needs to be done. If you think about it, we brush our teeth on the daily basis along with visits to the dentist, but how many of our pets get the same treatment? As more and more people are getting pets, dental health should be one of the things that all owners should know about as part of preventative health care in pets.
When pets do not get regular cleaning of the teeth, bacteria can start to proliferate and cause infections in the mouth. The bacteria, along with saliva and food particles, can cause plaque and tartar to build up on surfaces of the teeth. In some cases, the bacteria can cause deep infections around the tooth roots which leads to abscesses. In the long run if the dental issue is not resolved, bacteria can enter the blood circulation via small blood vessels in the gums and cause problems with other organs such as kidney, liver, and heart.
The usual symptoms of dental problems tend to be excessive salivation, inflammation of the gums, and even bleeding of the gums. A lot of people think that if their pet is still eating then there is no problem with the teeth, but usually that is only the case when the problem is very severe. It is unfortunate that there are still a number of pets that are living everyday with poor dental conditions as owners are unaware what to look out for, and only when they are brought to the veterinarian is the problem identified.
What can we do to help?
Contrary to popular belief, an “anaesthetic-free dental” does not ensure that the teeth are clean as bacteria can still be present at the gum-line, and that is why proper dental scaling at veterinary clinics under general anaesthesia is important. During dental scaling procedures, a periodontal probe is used to measure the depth of gum pockets around the teeth to check the health of each individual tooth. A dental chart is used to identify and record any tooth problems, such as rot, decay, or receding gum-line, and will be extracted accordingly. In veterinary clinics, dental X-rays are used as a non-invasive way to check for the integrity of the tooth roots. The remaining teeth that are assessed to be healthy will then be scaled and polished.
There are multiple options to maintain dental hygiene in pets nowadays. Things like pet toothbrushes and toothpastes, dental chews, enzymatic water additives, are widely available. Pets are valuable members of the family, and dental health should be one of the main focus for owners as routine cleaning will prevent infections from setting in, and also for the wellbeing of our furry companions.