Periodontitis is one of the most common dental problems our pets face–and yet it’s difficult to tell with just a look. However, preventative dental care is also one of the most important things you can do to ensure your pet has a long, happy, and healthy life.
If you’re a new patient, don’t hesitate to ask questions regarding our services or schedule your pet’s next oral exam at Oklahoma Veterinary Services, where we can provide in-house X-ray and anesthetic services to meet any dental or healthcare needs your furry friend might have.
How To Identify Dental Disease in Pets
Unfortunately, seeing if your pet suffers from dental discomfort isn’t always easy. 60% of the tooth is invisible to us, beneath the gum line, and some pets might not show obvious signs of tooth decay until the problem has become severe.
Dental disease in cats can be difficult for pet owners to recognize at home. Not only can it manifest as respiratory symptoms that may seem like common colds or seasonal allergies, but cats hide discomfort remarkably well.
Cats are also less willing to open their mouths to give you a look inside to see for yourself. This is one reason their annual vet visit is so important, as a pet owner can rarely diagnose cat dental disease independently.
The most common dental diseases in dogs are fractures, retained baby teeth, oral infections, and bacterial infections in the gums.
Both cat and dog dental disease stages progress similarly:
- It begins when bacteria is left to form plaque on teeth.
- If the plaque sticks, it hardens into tartar, which becomes harder and harder to remove as time goes on.
- Excessive tartar causes inflammation in the gums, “gingivitis.”
- Gingivitis leads to infection that can spread to the tooth, jaw, and possibly even the heart.
These distressing consequences can be easily avoided with preventative care. Keep an eye out for the following signs to see if your pet has dental problems:
- Bad breath, or halitosis, is a telltale sign of dental problems.
- A cat, or even a small dog, suffering from a stuffy nose could suffer from gum inflammation affecting their sinuses. Sneezing can be another sign of this.
- General lethargy and loss of appetite are common in pets experiencing tooth and/or jaw pain. Another behavioral cue could be chewing only on one side of the mouth.
- Visual signs to look out for include swelling, redness, and excessive drooling.
Any of these symptoms warrant a visit to your vet or pet dentist.
Preventative and Maintenance Dental Care for Pets
Luckily, proper dental maintenance is relatively stress-free for cats and dogs alike. Small changes to diet, treats, and routine can improve their long-term health outlooks.
- Add water additives to your pet’s water dish to fight tartar and plaque with no extra effort
- Feed your special pet treats and dental chews to wipe away plaque while they snack
- If your pet is willing, regularly brush their teeth right at home. Your vet can provide special toothpaste that tastes great to your pet.
- Your vet can also apply a special sealant after a routine dental cleaning to help prevent bacteria from clinging to your pet’s teeth.
If your pet has already suffered from dental disease, there are ways to manage the damage and minimize their discomfort. An experienced pet dentist can perform corrective oral surgery.
Can My Regular Vet Care for My Pet’s Teeth?
It depends. Any veterinarian can conduct a routine oral exam. A general anesthetic is needed even for the most well-mannered pup if your pet requires dental cleaning. It allows your vet to give the most thorough examination and cleaning possible to identify and prevent problems.
You will want to have dental X-rays done throughout your pet’s life. Some toy and short-faced breeds should undergo X-rays as they grow and develop to ensure their teeth aren’t overcrowded or misaligned.
Your vet may or may not have the equipment on-site to conduct X-rays. In this case, they will recommend the right clinic and pet dentist to help diagnose dog or cat dental disease.
Here at Oklahoma Veterinary Services, we can complete in-house X-ray and anesthetic services. You can be confident that any need your furry friend might have, dental or otherwise, can be met immediately! Don’t hesitate to ask questions regarding our services or schedule your pet’s next oral exam.