Dental disease is extremely common in pets: 85% of adult dogs and cats have some stage of it. By age 3, eight in 10 dogs and seven in 10 cats are already showing signs. Small dogs are at higher risk for tartar formation, gum infection, and loss of teeth.
Dental disease is bad news. Left untreated, it can have serious, even life-threatening consequences.
Oral bacteria from plaque and tartar enter the bloodstream and can damage your pet’s heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and nervous system. The American Veterinary Medical Association, or AVMA, says untreated dental disease that becomes severe can even lead to death.
Plus, dental disease is painful. Pet parents never want their fur babies to suffer.
The good news is: You can prevent, manage, and sometimes even reverse dental disease with routine care and professional cleanings.
Just like with people, the health of your pet’s teeth both indicates and affects his or her overall health.
There are four stages (or scores) of dental disease, in increasing seriousness and danger:
- Stage 1: Gingivitis – inflamed gums but completely reversible!
- Stage 2: Early periodontitis – sore gums and bad breath, but still reversible!
- Stage 3: Moderate periodontitis – infected gums and pain, may be irreversible
- Stage 4: Advanced periodontitis – chronic infection and major damage, irreversible
As dental disease progresses, your pet may suffer root abscesses, mouth ulcers, painful lesions, gum recession, and tooth loss.
We want to catch and treat dental disease well before it reaches stages three and four when the worst damage occurs and tooth extractions become necessary.
Bad Breath: Not Just Stinky
Say no to stinky smooches! Bad breath is certainly unpleasant. It’s also often the first and most noticeable sign of trouble.
Animals are very good at hiding discomfort, even from the most dedicated pet parents. It’s time to see the vet if your pet is ever:
- Pawing at the mouth
- Drooling excessively or unusually
- Having trouble eating, such as favoring one side of the mouth
- Refusing to eat
- Experiencing bloody saliva or nasal discharge
Some signs your pet is having dental trouble will be obvious. Red, swollen, or bleeding gums; loose, broken, or missing teeth; and mouth lesions all require medical attention. But lots of other serious health issues can be traced back to the teeth.
What can you do, as a dedicated pet parent, to keep your pet in good dental health? Plenty!
Get your pet’s teeth and mouth examined. First things first: the dental exam. A routine wellness visit at Eno includes an expert assessment of your pet’s oral health and custom recommendations from your vet for care.
Keep an eye out. Between visits, take a peek at your pet’s teeth and gums regularly to monitor for anything strange.
Use your head—toothbrush head, that is. Not many pet parents brush their pets’ teeth, but even weekly care can make a difference. The earlier you start, the easier it is to get into the brushing groove. Just remember: Never use human toothpaste. We have special toothpaste just for pets.
If brushing doesn’t quite work for you or your pet, dental chews can. They’re specially designed to be effective; plus they’re delicious and can easily be part of your pet’s normal treat routine. We have tons of options. Just ask us for details.
Your pet’s diet can also play a central role in good dental health. We recommend several brands, backed by decades of scientific research and study, that help prevent plaque and tartar.
Why Dental Cleanings?
Dental cleanings are a crucial component of wellness care! Just like people dentistry, pet dentistry is an important part of a healthy and happy life.
We gently probe each tooth and around the gums. We expertly scale and polish each tooth and under the gum line. Then we apply a special sealant to protect your pet’s teeth from plaque.
The only big difference between people and pet dentistry: Since we cannot clean your pet’s teeth when he or she is awake, pet dentistry is a full anesthetic procedure.
Anesthesia always comes with risks. We do everything we can to make dentistry as safe as possible: safe anesthesia drugs; constantly monitoring your pet’s vital signs while under anesthesia; and carefully monitoring your pet while recovering from anesthesia.
We also perform pre-operative blood work to ensure your pet is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia.
We’re happy to discuss all the details of dentistry. Call us at (919) 471-0308 for a consultation. We want to help your pet live his or her best life, and dental care is a big part of the best care.
A Note About Cost
Since pets cannot be awake for dental work, dentistry requires full anesthesia. This makes it more expensive than people’s dentistry.
Yet dental work is invaluable to your pet’s health. Preventative cleanings will actually save you money in the long run…not to mention keep your pet healthier! Annual cleanings, especially at dental disease stages 1 and 2, will help hold off much more serious and expensive problems in the future.
Untreated dental disease will only get worse, which means your pet’s pain and problems will only get worse. And by then, dentistry will be that much more expensive.
Why Take Dental X-Rays?
Your vet can find and diagnose dental disease by physical exam…but many serious dental problems lurk out of sight: under the gums and in the tooth roots.
That’s why we always perform digital dental x-rays (also called radiographs) while your pet is under anesthesia. This is another reason pet dentistry is a full anesthetic procedure.
Full-mouth radiographs reveal the true health of your pet’s mouth, teeth, and gums.
You might be surprised how many secret painful problems we discover on radiographs that are simply invisible to the naked eye: cracked roots, abscesses, lesions, and pockets. Yuck and ouch.
If we find serious dental problems on x-rays, we’ll call you to tell you exactly what’s going on with your pet, and what your vet will do to help.
It doesn’t help your pet to have sparkling teeth on the outside and pain on the inside. We want your pet to be healthy and whole.
Big Question: What Should I Do If My Pet Already Has Advanced Dental Disease?
We can still help.
Advanced dental disease often requires tooth extractions, which is oral surgery performed by your vet during your pet’s dentistry. Removing that damage and pain will give your pet back better health and happiness.
We’ve seen pets who were lethargic or didn’t want to eat, who needed multiple extractions; once they had dentistry and healed, they became happier, perkier pets again.
Cats Need Dental Care, Too
Dental disease applies to cats just as much as dogs. In fact, cats are actually more susceptible to certain dental problems.
Most cats show signs of dental disease by the time they are 3 years old. Without proper care, the condition will only get worse and more painful.
We promise: You can clean your cat’s teeth! We recommend a finger brush and seafood-flavored toothpaste. We also offer food and water additives, rinses, and gels. Plus regular dental exams and cleanings of course.
Fresh breath, strong teeth, and gums, a life without pain: Pet dental care is definitely worth it. Call us for more information at (919) 471-0308.