Pet Dental Exams: More Than Just a Pretty Smile
One of the most overlooked yet important areas of pet health and longevity is the quality of dental health provided. And, yet many pet owners make the mistake of assuming that oral hygiene and pet dental exams aren’t as fundamentally necessary as something like vaccinations or diet.
Further to this, there are some misconceptions about what dental exams entail – are cleanings just to make teeth whiter, for example?
In order to help pet parents navigate these concerns, we’ll take a closer look at what dental exams are and why they are needed.
Understanding the Importance of Dental Exams
At Schertz Animal Hospital, a thorough dental examination is included in your pet’s annual wellness exam. A dental exam allows us to visually assess the condition of your pet’s teeth and gums, checking for abnormal or suspicious changes that may have occurred since your pet’s last appointment.
During this examination, we also discuss at-home care and any changes you, the pet guardian, may have noticed (such as problems chewing, rubbing at mouth, changes in breath odor, etc.).
Your pet’s oral exam is also a great opportunity to discuss nutrition, which impacts dental health, and any nutritional supports or adjustments to be made. For some pet owners with certain breeds that are more susceptible to dental problems, such as bulldogs, Shih tzus, and Himalayans, we will consult on related conditions that may be present.
When a More Comprehensive Exam is Required
Periodontal disease or dental disease is a serious condition that can cause pain and long-term damage to organs like the heart, kidneys, and liver; yet dental disease is found in an estimated 80-90% of cats and dogs over the age of 3.
Considering the negative consequences of untreated dental disease, in many cases, oral examinations may also entail X-rays (to see below the gum line, where most problems are found) and dental cleanings.
In order to better diagnose the problem your pet will often require sedation through supervised and safe anesthesia. Both the comprehensive exam and cleaning are performed by a veterinarian with the assistance of trained technicians.
Although some pet parents find anesthesia daunting, it is safe and the most effective way to remove damaging plaque and tartar and treat conditions that could have much more serious repercussions to overall health if left to progress.
Dental cleanings are one of the most common procedures for pet patients and can help prevent dental disease and its secondary diseases from developing.
Now that we have a keen understanding of the link between oral health and overall health and longevity, we have the opportunity to focus more intently on prevention.
Along with regularly brushing your pet’s teeth, providing him or her with a nutritious, high quality food (we are glad to make recommendations, when in doubt), and maintaining annual examinations, you can encourage the best health for your fur friend.