Pet Dental Health | Why Exams are So Important

Just like humans, dental health is extremely important for dogs and cats. Yet dental disease is all too common – it is the number one illness affecting pets. Maintaining healthy teeth and gums can prevent Periodontal disease, which is linked to other health problems including kidney, liver, and heart disease. To make sure you’re taking the best care of your feline or canine companion, here are some things you can do to ensure that dental health remains a top priority.

Yearly Exam
Dogs and cats should have their teeth and gums examined by a veterinarian once a year. Veterinarians will check your pet for broken teeth or roots, periodontal disease, abscesses or infected teeth, and other dental issues.

Watch for Signs of Trouble
There are several warning signs of dental problems. If you notice any of the following, you should visit your veterinarian:

  • Bad Breath
  • Broken or Loose Teeth
  • Discolored Teeth
  • Tartar Buildup
  • Pain, Swelling, or Bleeding in/around Mouth
  • Reduced Interest in Food or Refusal to Eat

Dental Surgery
If your veterinarian notices any issues with your pet’s teeth, they will recommend dental surgery. Dental surgeries include a thorough cleaning as well as any other necessary procedure such as extractions and/or filings. The veterinarian will take x-rays before the surgery begins to get a better picture of your pet’s dental health. Your pet will be placed under anesthesia during the dental procedure to minimize stress and pain. Most pets can go home the same day of their surgery and will just be a little groggy afterwards.

The American Veterinary Medical Association also recommends brushing your pet’s teeth at least a few times per week at home, but some dogs or cats may not be tolerant of this practice even with training. There are various dental products, treats, and diets you can try, however, you should always consult your veterinarian about what is appropriate for your pet.

Prevention and treatment of dental disease are key. In fact, pets that receive good dental care live 20% longer! Talk with your veterinarian about what you can do to improve your pet’s dental health.