Doggie Dental HealthPublished February 23, 2011
Flickr User fazen
Turns out -- that's not actually true (unfortunately). In fact, oral and dental diseases are very common in companion animals, sadly, and periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition in companion animals as well. Gum disease can cause bad breath, oral pain, behavioral changes, and can even affect organs such as the kidneys, liver, and heart if left untreated.
Dental Health Basics
Still, there are tons of ways to keep your furry pal's teeth and gums healthy, and warning signs for when he needs to make a trip to the doggie dentist. For starters, The American Animal Hospital Association recommends that dogs get annual oral examinations and periodontal cleanings, since the majority of dental disease is below the gumline and anesthesia, dental probing, and intraoral radiographs are required for such work. "Fractured teeth, missing teeth, discolored teeth, extra teeth, malformed teeth--these all require the pet to be under anesthesia for an exam and intraoral radiographs," said Kevin S. Stepaniuk, DVM, FAVD, Dipl. AVDC, president-elect of the American Veterinary Dental Society.
So what all happens when Fido gets his doggie dental workup from a professional? A comprehensive dental health exam and/or assessment with a periodontal cleaning for your pup will include a preanesthetic physical exam, preanesthetic blood work, general anesthesia, an oral exam with probing and dental charting, intraoral dental radiographs, periodonatal cleaning, and treatment based on the exam and radiographs.
Finding a Pet Dentist
And in terms of who you should turn to to perform any dental work on your friend, look for a licensed, certified or registered veterinary technical or a veterinary assistant with advanced dental training, dentist, or registered dental hygienist.
You shouldn't worry too much about the risks associated with dental work for your dog, though. "The risks are negligible to minimal if all the correct procedures are followed," said Dr. Stepaniuk. The proper anesthesia techniques increase safety in your pet, reduce stress, and decrease the chances of adverse side effects, and they are essential for a thorough and efficient evaluation and treatment.
It's mostly important to not wait too long when it comes to your dog's dental are. "It should never be put off," said the doctor. And be sure to discuss any ongoing questions or concerns you might have with your dog's dentist before leaving the office, to include any home care, medications and their side effects.
Regular Dental Maintenance
While daily brushing is a very effective way to maintain excellent pet dental health, making sure your pet has something to crunch on, be it food or a dental chew, is helpful too.
When it comes to food, some pets benefit from the ingredient sodium hexametaphosphate or HMP, which helps to keep teeth clean during and after meals, according to Dr. Katy J. Nelson, DVM, a member of the Iams Pet Wellness Council.
Preventative dental appointments make a big difference as well. For more information on dental work for pups, check out the American Veterinary Dental College Website.