EVERY DAY IS DENTAL DAY
Did you know?
Oral disease is the #1 health problem diagnosed in dogs & cats. Without proper dental care 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by age 3. To prevent dental disease, your pet needs routine dental care at home. How long would you go without brushing your teeth? Daily brushing: Regular brushing of your dog's teeth is a very important preventive for oral and other diseases. But to perform good home care, you need to start with clean teeth. Brushing alone will remove plaque but not tartar.
Why you ask?
Our dogs and cats are living longer now than in the past, due to advances in veterinary medicine (earlier diagnoses & treatment, advances in medications, etc..) and preventative care (vaccines, heart worm preventatives, spay & neuter, etc...). Now veterinarians are seeing more patients whose most severe medical problems are dental problems. The plaque, tartar & gingivitis in your pets mouth leads to build up of bacteria, which can enter the blood stream, which can lead to heart, liver and kidney disease. To prevent oral disease, which is the number one health problem diagnosed in dogs & cats, it is essential to provide our dogs or cats with good dental care, both professionally (at the veterinarians office) and at home.
What causes oral disease?
Plaque + Tartar = Gingivitis
Just like our teeth, the teeth of our pets are used for chewing. As our dog or cat chews, the food particles and bacteria in the mouth collect along the gumline forming plaque. If the plaque is not removed, the minerals in the saliva combine with the plaque to form tartar (or calculus, that dark crusty looking area on the tooth at the gum line), which adheres strongly to the teeth. Plaque starts mineralization 3-5 days after it forms. The tartar is irritating to the gums and causes an inflammation called gingivitis. This can be seen as reddening of the gums adjacent to the teeth. It also causes bad breath. (halitosis). At this point a professional prophylaxis (dental cleaning) and polishing is needed to remove the plaque and tartar buildup and reduce the gingivitis.
Gingivitis + No Treatment = Periodontal Disease
If the tartar is not removed, it builds up under the gums. It separates the gums from the teeth to form "pockets" and encourages even more bacterial growth. At this point the damage is irreversible, and called "periodontal" disease. It can be very painful and can lead to loose teeth, abscesses, and bone loss or infection. As bacterial growth continues to increase, the bacteria may enter the bloodstream. This can cause infection of the heart valves (endocarditis), liver, and kidneys. If treated by your veterinarian with dental cleaning, medications and special procedures, periodontal disease can be slowed or stopped.
Dental Facts: The Cat's Mouth
Kittens have 26 temporary teeth, 14 in the upper jaw and 12 in the lower jaw. These deciduous teeth begin to erupt at about two to four weeks of age. Cats have 30 permanent teeth, 16 on the top and 14 on the bottom. These emerge at about three to four months of age. Cats have 2 permanent teeth that have 3 roots each, and 10 teeth that each have 2 roots. The hair-like structures on the rough tongue of a cat are called 'papillae' and aid in grooming. The first symptom of a fractured upper canine tooth (the large fang) in a cat may be sneezing.
The most common oral tumor in cats is squamous cell carcinoma. These tumors often start under the tongue.
Studies show that 70 percent of cats show signs of gum disease (gingivitis) by age three. Symptoms include yellow and brown build-up of tartar along the gumline, red inflamed gums, and persistent bad breath. Oral disease is a common finding in cats infected with feline leukemia virus (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and feline calicivirus (FCV). Feline dental resorption lesions, commonly called cervical line lesions or neck lesions are the most common dental disease of domestic cats, and the most common cause of tooth loss. The lesions often begin below the gumline, so they may develop undetected.
Dental Facts: The Dog's Mouth
Puppies have 28 temporary teeth, 14 in the upper jaw and 14 in the lower jaw. These deciduous teeth erupt at about three to four weeks of age. Dogs have 42 permanent teeth, 20 on the top, and 22 on the bottom. These begin to emerge at about four months of age. Dogs have 6 permanent teeth that have 3 roots each, and 14 teeth that each have 2 roots. Puppies should lose a puppy tooth before the corresponding adult tooth emerges. If a puppy tooth is still in place when an adult tooth begins to show it is called a retained deciduous teeth. If this occurs, see your veterinarian so the dog's occlusion is not affected. Studies show that by age three, 80 percent of dogs exhibit signs of gum disease. Symptoms include yellow and brown buildup of tartar along the gum line, red inflamed gums and persistent bad breath. Facial swelling below the eye is usually due to an infection of the 4th premolar (carnassial) tooth. Sneezing and nasal discharge may be due to an infection of the upper canine tooth. The infection may lead to an opening between the mouth and the nasal cavity. This is called an oral nasal fistula. Small dog breeds are more likely to develop periodontal disease than
large dogs because the teeth of small dogs are often too large for their mouths, according to veterinary dentistry experts. A broken tooth is a common problem, especially among outdoor dogs. The canine teeth of working dogs are essential to allowing the dogs to carry prey and other objects. If these teeth become broken, a canine dental specialist can prepare a metal crown.
What is included in a good dental care program?
Daily Home Oral Care
Home oral care includes routine examinations of your dog or cats mouth and brushing the teeth. As you care for your pets mouth, look for warning signs of gum disease such as bad breath, red and swollen gums, a yellow-brown crust of tartar around the gum line, and pain or bleeding when you touch the gums or mouth. You should also watch for discolored, fractured, or missing teeth. Any bumps or masses within the mouth should also be checked by your veterinarian.
Visit your Veterinarian
Visit your Veterinarian if you are concerned about your pets oral health for an Oral Examination.During
the oral exam your veterinarian will examine the face and head for asymmetry, swelling, or discharges.Examine the oral cavity, oral mucosa, and surfaces of teeth and gums. Open the mouth to examine the inner surfaces of the teeth and gums and the tongue, palates, oral mucosa, tonsils, and ventral tongue area. Palpate and assess the size, shape, and consistency of the salivary glands and the lymph nodes in the neck. The veterinarian communicate to you the finding of the exam and let you know if a professional dental prophylaxis is needed. Pre-dental blood work will need to be done within 30 days of the dental procedure. The blood work can be done the day of the oral examination and the appointment for the dental prophylaxis scheduled also.
If a dental prophylaxis is needed
You will be asked to schedule an appointment for your pet on a surgery/dental day. Your pet will need to be anesthetized. Your pet will need to fast (have nothing to eat) after 8pm the evening prior to the dental water is OK up until you bring the pet in to the clinic. Your pet will need to be dropped off early in the morning and will go home the same afternoon. Your pet will receive IV fluids and given drugs pre-op to relieve anxiety and pain, once the pet has been anesthetized, an endotrachial tube (breathing tube) is placed in the trachea, and the pet is connected to monitors accessing vital signs. The mouth oral cavity is examined and the condition of the teeth and mouth are charted (abnormalities, missing, or damaged teeth are marked), dental radiographs (x-rays) are taken as needed to assess the health of the teeth and bone surrounding the teeth. The dental technician will clean the tartar from the teeth above and below the gum line using hand scalers and an ultrasonic scaler, the teeth will be polished to remove microscopic scratches. The veterinarian will then exam the mouth and oral cavity and any extractions or other dental/oral procedures will be done at that time. Antibacterial flushes are used pre and post dental by the technician to reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth. Depending on the extent of gingivitis and/or periodontal disease found antibiotics and or other medications may be needed. The technician and/or the veterinarian will go over the details of the dental and plans for your pets future dental health at the time the pet is picked up.
Brushing your dog or cats teeth at home ?? Are You Ready?
Brushing your dog or cats teeth should be a positive experience. Start slowly getting your pet used to having it's head and muzzle touched, the mouth opened, and the gums rubbed and massaged, start by putting the brush in the pets mouth to get used to the feel against the gums, letting your pet lick some toothpaste from the brush may help get them used to the feel of the brush, use a soothing voice, lots of praise and a play session or dental treat as a reward afterward. Use the least amount of restraint needed to keep the pet safe while brushing. Brushing should be an enjoyable time for both of you... Patience and persistence. The real benefit of tooth brushing comes from the mechanical action of the brush on the teeth. Before starting get everything you will need together, within reach in the area you will be working.
You will need~~~
Pet toothpaste Pet toothpaste comes in many yummy flavors poultry, malt, beef, liver, etc.. Do Not Use People toothpaste, as it can upset your pets stomach. Flavored toothpastes can make tooth brushing more acceptable to pets.
Pet mouth rinse Pet mouth rinses contain chlorhexidine, hexametaphosphate, or zinc gluconate. Many pet mouth rinses can be used on a daily basis to combat doggie/kitty? breath. Do Not Use People mouthwash as it contains ingredients which may harm your pet. Do Not Use pet mouth rinses containing fluorides unless prescribed by your veterinarian.
Toothbrushes, sponges, and/or pads Pet toothbrushes come in a variety of sizes and styles, suited for both dogs and cats. Choose a size and style that fits your pets size. Double ended toothbrush, finger toothbrush, single end toothbrush are all good choices, but some pets will not tolerate a brush in their mouth. Try using a small cosmetic sponge, gauze pad, or an old piece of terry cloth or t-shirt wrapped around your finger if a brush is not tolerated. You may have to be patient and experiment with brush styles, sizes, and toothpaste flavors before achieving success.
Diet, Treats, Toys
Feeding a dry diet or specially formulated dental diet will help keep the plaque accumulation down. Using rope chew toys will help keep your pets teeth flossed. There are may toys and treats on the market to help keep your pets breath fresh and teeth clean. Avoid rawhide, bones, hooves, pigs ears, as these can fracture your pets teeth or cause stomach upsets. Consult your veterinarian or dental technician if you have any questions regarding diet, treats and toys, as some of our pets are on prescription diets and cannot have these diets or treats.