Animal dental health is often overlooked as it relates to a pet's comprehensive health status. Sound oral health is necessary for quality of life and optimal wellness. If left untreated, diseases of the mouth, gums or jaw are not only painful but may also be contributing factors to more widespread, systemic disease processes.
The American Veterinary Dental Society reports that 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by age three, and 60 percent of disease occurs below the gum line. Dental disease may not only affect the mouth, but may also progress to serious health risks affecting the heart, lungs or kidneys. Since bacteria often invade the oral cavity, tartar and plaque need to be removed to counteract subsequent infection, gingivitis ("swollen gums") or pyorrhea (infection of tissues surrounding the teeth).
Dental prophylaxis (prevention), generally speaking, is performed on an animal who has a healthy oral cavity and only mild gingivitis in order to prevent more serious tissue damage or disease.
Dental treatment is available to patients with disease of any part of the mouth. The beginning and severity of periodontal disease depends on age, breed, diet and at-home care, with younger, small-breed dogs typically presenting with infection earlier than large-breed dogs. Abnormal signs and symptoms of dental abnormalities include: pain, bad breath, excessive drooling, fractured or loose teeth, swelling or bleeding of the gums, tumors, sores or wounds.
The oral examination performed by your Vista Veterinary Hospital veterinarian is the basis of the preliminary treatment plan for your pet. A comprehensive, specific plan can only be determined after your animal has had appropriate blood tests, has been placed under anesthesia with x-rays of the oral cavity have been taken. General anesthesia is necessary for pets undergoing dental treatment. All anesthetized animals receive continuous IV fluids, and their blood pressure, oxygen status, and heart functions monitored. With modern anesthetics and good monitoring, the risk of anesthesia is very low.
With a focus on restorative care, your doctors at Vista Veterinary Hospital are skilled and well-equipped to perform procedures such as:
- application of dental products to minimize plaque buildings
- deep-gum cleaning
- removal of calculus (tartar)
After any dental procedure, home dental care for your companion animal will be discussed in order to maximize his or her comfort, maintain a disease-free oral cavity and retain good quality of life.