February is National Pet Dental Health Month
Healthy mouths for healthy pets!
Have you noticed your pet’s appetite changing? Does your dog or cat refuse to chomp hard food, refuse to play with favorite toys, or shift toys or food around the mouth?
Have you noticed lip smacking, drooling, or halitosis? Sneezing or nasal discharge becoming a problem? It may be time for a dental check up!
Dogs have 42 permanent teeth
Cats have 30 permanent teeth
About 50 % of the tooth is located below the gumline
Many of the teeth have multiple roots
The top portion of the tooth is called the “crown” and is covered in “enamel”, The root is covered in “dentin”
Dental Disease affects 68 percent of cats and 76 percent of dogs, making it the most common disease of companion animals. (Banfield State of Animal Health, 2016)
On this image you can see a normal x-ray of the lower teeth in a dog.
On this x-ray right you can see bone loss around the apex of the root.
That tooth is very painful, and infection and debris fills those pockets where the bone is missing.
Are my cat’s teeth unique?
Of course! Cats are more prone to resorptive lesions than dogs are.
These lesions are painful, but difficult to spot. Because cats are stoic creatures, they don’t always show signs of oral pain until the lesions are very advanced.
What can you do to keep your pet’s teeth healthy?
- Regular brushing. Use a soft toothbrush or cloth to gently brush the surface of each tooth, keeping plaque from building up. You can use a veterinary formula toothpaste. Do not use your own toothpaste! 2-3 times per week is a reasonable goal. Talk to your veterinarian for more tips!
- Regular veterinary visits. The veterinarian will be able to evaluate the health of gingival tissue, teeth, and to look for any teeth that are missing, fractured or out of place. The mouth can also be evaluated for masses.
- Regular dental cleanings. With general anesthesia, the teeth can be more thoroughly evaluated, x-rays can be taken, and the teeth can be scaled and polished. Brushing and regular examinations are good, but a regular dental cleaning is essential for maintaining healthy teeth.
Having teeth extracted sounds scary, but the pets feel so much better when the diseased teeth have been removed. Make dental care part of your pet’s routine care!