By Dr. Liz Waguespack and Dr. Molly Waltman, Wags & Whiskers Veterinary Hospital
February is Dental Health Awareness Month and is a great opportunity to make sure that your beloved pet’s mouth is not a source of pain and discomfort. Dental disease is one of the most common diseases we see in veterinary medicine.
Small dogs such as Dachshunds, Miniature Poodles, Yorkies, and Shih Tzus are more prone to dental disease than larger breed dogs. Typically, these dogs need more frequent dental cleanings to make sure there are no hidden problems in their tiny mouths. There is more to dental disease than the bad breath that can accompany it. In people, the most common dental problem is tooth decay, which leads to cavities. In dogs, periodontal disease is the most common problem, with cavities being very rare.
Periodontal disease is inflammation and infection of the tissues around the teeth. This inflammation leads to pocketing of food and bacteria and eventually to tooth loss. The bacteria that live in the tartar and plaque buildup in the mouth can enter the bloodstream and cause kidney, heart, and liver disease. The extent of the inflammation cannot always be seen until the dog is under anesthesia and a thorough exam can be done.
To properly clean and care for your pet’s teeth, a veterinarian will sedate the dog and do a thorough cleaning of all surfaces of the teeth, including just below the gumline. Without sedation, it is not possible do a thorough job of cleaning and examining the teeth and oral cavity. Sometimes the tissues around the tooth are so infected and inflamed, the tooth has to be extracted (pulled). The good news is dogs no longer have to capture their food, and so most do well with a less than perfect smile.
Periodontal disease is extremely painful to pets and while it is easier to ignore the bad breath, it is an issue that should be addressed before it becomes a major problem. Have your pet’s mouth checked out by your veterinarian to make sure there are no unseen dangers lurking in the dark.
Wags & Whiskers Veterinary Hospital
204 E St Peter Street, Suite B, Carencro, LA 70520