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Pet Dental Health Month – Periodontal Disease

Brush Your Pet's Teeth

Periodontal disease is the loss of the periodontal attachment apparatus (periodontal ligament, alveolar bone, cementum and gingiva). Since 75-85% of these structures are identified below the soft tissues of the oral cavity (e.g. gingiva, alveolar mucosa, and palatal mucosa), a thorough clinical subgingival evaluation and intraoral radiographs are required to assess, diagnose and treat periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease may be potentiated by, but not limited to, malocclusions, crowding and rotation of teeth, systemic disease, nutritional status, individual patient susceptibility, genetics, trauma, and increased tooth to jaw size ratios.

The clinical signs of periodontal disease are often hidden and insidious. Halitosis, gingivitis, supragingival plaque and calculus, reluctance to chew, head shyness, pawing at the mouth, dropping food, sneezing, nasal discharge, are clinical signs. Unfortunately, many of those clinical signs require astute client observation and/or careful questioning from the clinician. Most commonly, there may be no obvious clinical signs to the owner and untrained veterinarian.

Stages of periodontal disease:

Stage 1 – Marginal gingivitis with no attachment loss. Minimal plaque and calculus

Stage 2 – Moderate gingivitis, bleeding upon probing. More plaque and calculus     accumulation is present, especially in the gingival sulcus. Dental radiographs may show signs of up to 25% attachment loss and some horizontal bone loss may be evident.

Stage 3 – Moderate periodontal disease. Periodontal pockets may be present and dental radiographs may show signs of attachment loss between 25% and 50%. Teeth may become mobile. Vertical bone loss and infra-bony pockets may be present.

Stage 4 – Severe periodontal disease. Periodontal pockets greater than 9 mm. Attachment loss is greater than 50%. Significant infrabony pockets with very mobile teeth associated with severe halitosis and generalized stomatitis.

 

Tags: Ask the Vet, Cats, Dogs, Health, Pet dental health month, Pet health, Preventative pet care

Pet Dental Health Month – Preventative Care

Brush Your Pet's TeethPreventive care and client education is an important step to introducing, implementing and improving overall dental and oral medical quality in your practices.  Understanding the veterinary team’s (DVMs, veterinary technicians and assistants, receptionists, managers) role in preventing periodontal disease before pathology develops through the three keys to preventive dental care are critical steps to embrace. Suggestions for partnering with your clients to actively involve them in their pet’s oral home care, understanding client perceptions, providing confident and personalized recommendations, working as a team to change and improve the hospital culture will be addressed.

Clients play a key role in insuring the success and oral health of their pet.  Proper education of the client regarding the need for home care and teaching the client to brush and to start an effective home care routine is important. This begins at an early age when pets are puppies and kittens. The hospital staff needs to spend enough time with the clients, explaining the causes of periodontal disease, so they will understand why it is important to continue home dental care and to recognize when problems are present so that proper intervention can occur.

During the pet’s first visit, and then during subsequent visits when the puppy or kitten receives vaccinations, the mouth needs to be examined.  Signs of malocclusions, retained deciduous teeth, developmental problems such as cleft palate, trauma or fractured teeth should be identified.  Discuss with clients when and which deciduous teeth fall out and inform them that the best way to begin preventive dental care is to start brushing the teeth when the pet is young, so he/she will get accustom to brushing.

Tooth brushing is the most effective means to prevent plaque and subsequent calculus build up because it is the mechanical action of the brushing that is effective in reducing plaque accumulation. Pet dental products such as toothpastes, toothbrushes, finger pads, finger brushes and dental wipes are available and should be used. Human dental care products should not be used. Dental diets, exercise toys, rawhide strips, dental treats, and many other dental toys can help reduce and eliminate the buildup of plaque and calculus.   Family and pet compliance will determine the best dental home care required for each pet. Cow hooves, bones, hard plastic toys such as Nylabones can fracture teeth and should be avoided.

Tags: Ask the Vet, Cats, Dogs, Health, Pet advice, Pet dental health month, Preventative pet care

February is National Pet Dental Health Month

Brush Your Pet's TeethAnyone who has ever been loved by a dog knows that “doggy breath” is not always the most pleasant smell but did you know that halitosis might actually be a sign of a bigger problem?  According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by the age of 3! We all know that brushing and flossing is important to keep our own teeth healthy but your furry family members need the same care and attention to their oral health.

Periodontal disease is a common problem we see in both dogs and cats but it can be prevented. One of the best ways to care for your fur babies teeth is to brush them daily. It sounds scary but its actually pretty easy. Click here for some instructions on how to do it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wB3GIAgrTPE

When oral health is neglected, bacteria and plaque build up on teeth and can get into your pets bloodstream and lead to serious health problems. The organs most often affected are the kidneys, liver, heart and lungs.

If you would like to have your pets teeth examined and get some help learning how to care for your pets teeth, be sure to schedule a visit with your Best Friends veterinarian. Your veterinary health care team can teach you about brushing, what the best treats are for your pet, and what to watch for in case of a dental problem. Signs of dental disease can include:

  • Bad breath
  • Discolored teeth
  • Bleeding gums
  • Difficulty chewing or loss of appetite

If your pet already has dental problems or periodontal disease, your veterinarian may recommend a dental cleaning under general anesthesia. Anesthesia is required to make sure that dental x-rays can be taken and that the veterinary team can do a thorough job of cleaning and polishing all of the teeth. Dogs or cats with severe problems may even benefit from seeing a veterinarian who is a dental specialist certified through the American Veterinary Dental College (http://www.avdc.org/ ).

A little extra care on your part will keep those pearly whites healthy and those tails wagging!

Tags: Cats, Dental Health Month, Dentistry, Dogs, Pet health
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