Celebrating Pet Dental Month

Why is dental health important for your pet?

All of us are used to brushing our own teeth, flossing and visiting the dentist regularly. Some of us have experienced toothaches. Similarly, our pets’ teeth require attention to keep their mouth healthy and pain-free. Inflamed or infected teeth and gums are painful in pets, just like they are in people. Studies have also shown that tooth and gum issues can lead to fractures of teeth, infected jaw bones, blindness, oral cancer, liver disease, kidney disease and heart disease.

But Doc, my pet does not have a problem eating….

This is a comment that veterinarians hear often. Our pets will continue to eat because in the wild, if their ancestors stopped eating or acted sick, they would soon be caught by their predators. Animals are born to hide their illnesses and because they can’t speak, they can’t come to us and tell us that their teeth hurt.

One reason that we know that their teeth hurt is that some pet owners will say to us: “Wow, my pet is more active and seems happier after they have had professional dental cleaning in the hospital. With the infected teeth extracted and gingivitis (sore gums) addressed, and their teeth professionally cleaned their pet is pain-free which tells us that before this procedure, their teeth did indeed hurt and there was simply no way of them telling us.

Animals have a similar pain threshold to ours. This means that during your pet’s annual exam, if the veterinarian sees inflamed gums and infected teeth, then they ARE in pain of various degrees.

Concerned? Flip your pet’s lip up, over his molars, and check the gum line for redness and plaque buildup. Then get a little closer and SNIFF. The next question should be “Is my pet painful and possibly requires a professional dental cleaning?” or “what can I do to keep these pearly whites this way?”