Pets need dentists too!

Our pets are no different to us really when it comes to looking after those pearly whites. Dental care for pets is every bit as important as it is for us, but for those pets who won’t co-operate when it comes to brushing their teeth, veterinary intervention may be required.

If you are successful with brushing your dog and cat’s teeth, the idea is to eliminate plaque buildup which is an accumulation of bacteria. Left untreated, this plaque will destroy the teeth and can even lead to bone loss.

Remember that dental care isn’t only for cats and dogs, but for smaller pets such as guinea pigs and rabbits and larger animals such as horses.

Diet – an important part of dental- and general health

The diet of your pet is important for health, and while the ingredients of pet foods all vary, you want to check out high-quality ingredients on the label of your pet food packaging. What you feed your pet has a huge impact on his dental wellbeing.

Some of the dried foods keep your dog’s teeth in good form because they ‘scrub’ the teeth as your pet chews to avoid tartar forming. Talk to your vet to find out about natural, wholesome ingredients to include in your pet’s diet as this contributes towards good oral health.

Sometimes veterinary health is required

You have to be careful with dental disease and your pet because most dental diseases occur below the gum line and this makes it invisible to see. That is why it is important to have the vet intervene. Sometimes examining and cleaning will be required but under anaesthesia.

Subject to certain regulations, veterinary technicians are allowed to perform certain dental procedures but under the supervision of a veterinarian.

Brushing your pet’s teeth

Most vets will advise pet owners to get used to brushing their pet’s teeth at the same time each day to get their pets into a regular routine with dental hygiene. You do get special toothpaste and tooth brush specially made for pets.

You must never use human toothpaste. If your pet will absolutely not allow you to do this tooth brushing, then speak to your vet because they can arrange for a teeth-cleaning session which can have tremendous benefits for your dog or cat.

Dental problems can lead to a host of health issues

A large percentage of dogs and cats require dentistry. Dental health is important for your pet’s general wellbeing, because left unattended, dental problems can lead to a host of health issues. Just like human beings need to visit the dentist regularly, a vet needs to look at your pet’s teeth at least once a year so as to detect early symptoms of dental disease.

Cavities can also occur in pets and in fact they can have much of the same dental problems that people can develop –

  • abscesses or infected teeth
  • palate defects such as cleft palate
  • tumours in the mouth
  • misalignment of the teeth and bite
  • fractured jaw

Signs that your pet may have dental issues

  • Bad breath
  • Doesn’t want to eat as the mouth is too sore. This can be due to broken, loose or missing teeth.
  • Teeth that are covered in tartar
  • Pawing at the mouth and rubbing the head on the ground
  • Drooling and abnormal chewing
  • Bleeding from the mouth as well as swelling
  • A general state of lethargy and misery

Bad breath for instance is a sign that all is not well with your pet, and the truth is, most pets over the age of 3 have some kind of dental disease. The reason you need to attend to your pet’s dental issues as soon as possible as it can lead to other problems:

  • Tooth loss
  • Pain
  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontitis
  • Infection in the mouth and with other organs

Periodontal disease for instance, is a pathological inflammatory condition of both bone and gum. Two common periodontal diseases are gingivitis and periodontitis.

When infection and tartar in your pets’ mouth get worse,  structures around the teeth such as the gums and the periodontal ligaments are affected and you find the ligaments loosening and the gums receding.  This results in tooth loss as well as the  spread of infection to the underlying maxillary bones and sinuses.

Bacteria from the mouth can flow into the bloodstream and spread into organs such as the kidneys and the valves of the heart.

Tooth crowding in some breeds

Dogs such as Boxers, Boston Terriers, Bulldogs and Pugs have tooth crowding and abnormal tooth positions. This can contribute to an abnormal gum line and a greater risk for periodontal disease.

Dentists also see many pets with infected teeth and diabetes which is out of control. Once the teeth are attended to, within just weeks their insulin levels go down.

The best vets in Australia offer excellent dental services for your pet. Some of the services they offer include –

  • Evaluation of the teeth for evidence of the likes of fractures and periodontal disease
  • Dental exam and dental x-rays
  • Professional scaling to remove plaque and tartar
  • Oral surgery
  • Pain control
  • Teeth cleaning and polishing

With general dentistry, your pet may well require anaesthesia for the particular procedure. Surgery can be useful because an animal may well become traumatised with dental procedures and jerk and move too much. Anaesthesia makes it more possible to perform the dental procedures with less stress, pain and discomfort for both pet and vet.

Pre-op process

Before your dog or cat has their surgery, the vet will first perform physical screenings and blood work to ensure that your pet is healthy enough for anaesthesia. All animals undergoing surgery have their blood pressure monitored as well as their heart rate and their blood oxygen levels are also monitored.

Whatever dental surgery your pet has, most are able to go home on the same day and often with a course of antibiotics and painkillers. Some circumstances require the animal staying overnight and being monitored to ensure they are eating properly before returning home.
Many Australian pet owners know that any kind of veterinary care can be expensive and it’s why many opt to purchase insurance so that their pets can get the dental- and other treatment they need.