The Connection Between Pet Dental Health & Whole Body Wellness
February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Raising awareness of this essential component of pet care is vitally important, and helps establish healthy habits year-round. To that end, Schertz Animal Hospital deducts 20% off dental cleanings in February and March. Even though many pet owners are on board to protect their pet from the dangers of gum disease, questions remain about the connection between pet dental health and whole body wellness.
The Numbers Are In
The majority of all pets will have some form of periodontal, or gum, disease by their third birthday. Without a doubt, periodontal disease is one of the most common conditions we see and treat in our pet patients. The good news is that periodontal disease is preventable. If it’s caught early on during a routine oral exam, we can halt progression and move towards a great outcome in pet dental health.
Periodontal disease is a progressive, inflammatory condition that occurs in response to plaque and tartar accumulation. There are four stages of the disease. Stage 1 begins with gingivitis or inflammation of the gums. Stage 4 typically involves a great deal of pain and tooth loss.
Even in the early stages of the disease, harmful oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream, leading to systemic damage. Periodontal disease has been connected to serious conditions in the heart, kidneys, liver, and lungs. In other words, to safeguard the health of your pet’s vital internal organs, the teeth and gums have to be in tip top shape.
Never Too Late
Adult and senior pets that have never experienced tooth brushing, dental exams, or professional cleanings under anesthesia can certainly handle this type of attention later in life. It may take some effort at home to convince an older pet that brushing is good for them, but with positive reinforcement, patience, and consistency, you can avoid the following typical symptoms of periodontal disease:
- Bad breath
- Yellow or brown teeth (especially near the gum line)
- Swelling of the gums
- Sensitivity that possibly results in inappetence and weight loss
- Loose, missing, or broken teeth
It Makes Sense
Pet dental care is crucial to your pet’s overall wellness, but without routine exams you might never know that they have a problem. Indeed, periodontal disease happens silently and symptoms won’t necessarily be obvious until the disease has progressed.
Pencil Us In
At your pet’s routine wellness exam (1-2 times a year depending on age and health) we always look at their teeth and gums. However, damage from periodontal disease is at the gum line or beneath it. This triggers a need for digital x-rays which can be taken while your pet is safely anesthetized for their cleaning and/or other pet dental health procedures.
Scaling and polishing the teeth, measuring the depth of pockets between receding gums and teeth, and assessing tooth movement are part of the process. Dental x-rays will also allow us to see how much bone loss has occurred as a result of periodontal disease.
Excellent Pet Dental Health
It’s always a pleasure to see a pet that has terrific looking chompers. This is especially true if we initially saw and treated them for some form of periodontal disease. Certain dental products, including prescription food, can go a long way toward your pet’s defense against poor pet dental health.