National Pet Dental Month

With National Pet Dental month coming up in February, we wanted our clients to be informed about dentals and why they’re important. Here are some basic questions that some of our clients ask about their pets teeth.

How many teeth do my dog or cat have?

Dogs start with 28 deciduous or baby teeth and cats start out with 26 deciduous teeth. By the age of 6 months, the baby teeth fall out and are followed by permanent teeth leaving dogs with 42 and cats with 30.

What happens when deciduous teeth fall out on their own?

You, as an owner, may not find your pets deciduous teeth as they fall out. However, they may be found as cats groom themselves or as dogs chew on toys. If the deciduous teeth don’t fall out and the permanent teeth start to come through, this can lead to problems such as increased tartar formation, malocclusion (bad bite) problems and gingival (gum) irritation.

When should I start with dental care for my pet?

The earlier the better. The sooner your pet gets use to regular brushing of the teeth, the easier it will be. The next time you see the vet, ask them for some cleaning tips to help keep your pets mouth healthy. With his/her help, you can be on the lookout for retained deciduous teeth and malocclusion problems. There are also veterinarian approved chew toys and treats that assist in keeping your pets teeth clean.

How can I tell if my pet has dental problems?

Bad breath is usually the first sign of dental disease. Check your pets’ teeth for tartar buildup, inflamed gums, or missing/broken teeth. Cats may exhibit increased drooling. Both cats and dogs may seem uninterested in toys, “chattering” of teeth when trying to eat, lethargy, bleeding gums, eroding teeth, and failing to groom in cats. Dental disease progresses in stages and if caught early enough, you can prevent further damage and save as many teeth as possible. Keep in mind that smaller dogs are more prone to dental disease so it’s extra important to take care of and stay on top of their teeth care.

Why is it so important to have my pets teeth cleaned?

Gums and teeth aren’t the only thing affected when there’s a problem in the mouth…the heart, kidneys, intestinal tract, and joints may also be infected when dental disease is involved. The tartar and any infected areas of the mouth contain a multitude of bacteria that can “seed” to other parts of the body. With regular dental care, you can prevent some of these more serious side effects in your pet. Not only is it better for their health, it’s also better for your wallet. If ignored, your pets dental will be much more than just a cleaning and polishing. There might be things such as x-rays, extractions, pain medications, antibiotics, etc.

My pet needs a dental cleaning by my veterinarian. What does that entail?

Pre-dental blood work is always recommended given that pets have to be anesthetized to do any and all dental work. This will check on the overall health of your pet and lets us know that their liver, kidneys and blood counts are within normal ranges and reduces any risks possible prior to the anesthesia.

Your pet will be fasted from the evening before the anesthesia, however water is ok to give them. The cleaning itself is similar to that of humans – tartar removal, checking for cavities, gingival (gum) pockets, loose teeth, any growths on the gums or palate, removal of diseased teeth, and finally, polishing. The polishing is to smooth the tooth after tartar removal, as the tartar pits the tooth. A smooth tooth will not encourage tartar formation as easily as a roughened tooth.

Having good dental health improves the overall health of your pet and many pets live longer, happier lives.

Sources: vetmedicine.about.com

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