Importance of Dental Exams
Recently the American Veterinary Dental Society reported that up to 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show some stage of oral disease by age 3. Unfortunately oral disease doesn't just affect the mouth. We hear a lot at the clinic that owners will described their pets as "very healthy except their teeth are bad", but primary periodontal disease affects not only teeth but secretly affects the heart, lungs and kidneys. This makes it all the more important to keep up to date with your pets dental care, exams and or cleanings.
To further define periodontal disease: this is a situation within your pets mouth where the tissue has become infected that holds and surrounds the teeth. There are various stages of this problem, but briefly it starts off as plaque on the teeth, the bacteria within the plaque will die and when mixed with saliva will harden forming tartar and then calcify forming calculus. This calculus acts as a landing base for further bacteria to accumulate and cycle into more calculus. If treated early, the tartar can easily be brushing off at home using tooth-brushing. If left untreated the tartar and calculus will spread to the gums and cause gingivitis or infection of the gums leading to further periodontal disease. Ultimately the root of the tooth is infected and becomes lose, painful and further cause systemic disease.
At home owners can play the main role in keeping the tartar and plaque at bay with simple daily tooth brushing. Different pets allow for different types of home teeth brushings and various types of cleaning utensils can be found at your veterinary office. However, it is important also to have regular annual exams by your vet to check teeth and usually after about 2 years of age in dogs and 4 years of age in cats it will be recommended to have an anesthetized full scale dental scaling and polishing with fluoride sealants +/- x-rays and or extractions. This will best prepare your pets teeth for lasting as long as your pet.
We cannot overstate the importance of microchipping your pet. It is a simple procedure to place the chip within the muscular tissue between the shoulder blades that is usually performed while patient is under anesthesia for a different procedure. However, the chip can be placed while patient is awake but will have local anesthesia so that the patient will not feel it. Microchipping your pet is the best way to get them back to you if they are lost and or stolen. If the microchip is registered appropriately then both yourself and or your registered veterinary clinic will be contacted to inform you as to the location of your pet. We could probably tell you close to 50 stories of owners losing their pets for whatever reason but being put back in the correct hands due to their chip.
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