Is your dog’s or cat’s breath so stinky that you can smell it from a mile away? Have you wished you could give your dog or cat a breath mint? Do you wish that nasty breath would just go away?
More Than Just Bad Breath
While bad animal breath can be unpleasant to smell, it is often just the very tip of what is going on inside your pet’s mouth. It may be a sign that your pet needs a dental cleaning and complete oral examination! Just like humans, dogs and cats need to have proper dental care and teeth cleanings to ensure healthy mouths.
Most dental problems in animals occur UNDER the gum line and go unnoticed until severe dental decay, gum infections, and jaw bone loss occur. Without proper dental care, 75% of pets will have oral disease by the age of three.
Dental Cleaning Process
During a dental cleaning procedure, we “scale” your pet’s teeth (meaning we remove plaque and tartar from the surface of each tooth) with an ultrasonic scaler. We check all the teeth for any signs of infection or looseness. We check around each tooth for periodontal pockets. Large pockets around the tooth roots can indicate a diseased tooth or possible root infection. If large pockets exist around a tooth, we may need to perform a dental extraction to remove the tooth altogether.
After we scale and clean all of the teeth, we polish them and apply fluoride. Polishing smooths the
surface of the teeth and decreases the ability of plaque to adhere to the teeth. Fluoride makes the teeth more resistant to bacteria and helps to harden the dentin (the bone-like substance under the hard enamel) of the tooth and decrease tooth sensitivity.
Some pets, like those with broken teeth or significant periodontal disease, can benefit from dental x-rays. Dental x-rays allow us to see below the gum line and evaluate possible problems that may not be visible to the naked eye. Based on these x-rays, we are able to determine the best treatment option for an abnormal tooth. Depending on the level of disease, some teeth may be able to be saved while others may need to be removed.
Dental Care Adds Years to Your Pet’s Life!
In addition to a better smelling mouth, routine dental cleanings can help to save your pet’s teeth from extractions, decrease oral discomfort, and help provide healthier gums.
Did you know that a cleaner mouth can also help the liver, heart, and kidneys? Dental tartar can trap bacteria in the mouth which can allow for bacteria to enter the bloodstream. Once the tartar enters the bloodstream, it can move into the heart or the primary filtering organs (kidneys and liver) causing signs of early organ problems and infections.
Proper dental care can add five years to your pet’s life! In addition to at-home dental care, professional dental cleanings are an important part of your pet’s overall health care. Call your veterinarian to schedule your pet’s dental cleaning today!
Dr. Heintz is a small and exotic animal veterinarian at Countrycare Animal Complex in Green Bay, WI. She earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign. Her passion is helping all animals, whether furry, scaly, or feathered, lead long and healthy lives.