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February 20, 2013 at 10:31 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Your Pet's Dental Health

By Dr. Lynn Happel DVM More Blogs by This Author

Dental health is one of the areas most overlooked by veterinarians and pet owners alike. The American Veterinary Dental College states that 80% of dogs and cats have periodontal disease by the time they are 2 years of age. What is periodontal disease? Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues around the teeth.

Bacteria Migration

Bacteria, food particles, and salivary proteins combine to form a film on the surface of the tooth. Bacteria then migrate below the gum line, where they thrive. The bacteria below the gum line produce byproducts that cause inflammation of the gingiva (gums), destruction of the periodontal ligament, and destruction of the bone.

Periodontal disease is painful for your pet and can cause damage to their internal organs. Each time your pet chews, bacteria break loose and head into the bloodstream through inflamed gum tissue. The bacteria then get caught in small capillary networks of the liver, kidneys, and heart where bacteria multiply and cause disease and organ dysfunction.

Dental Health and Our Pets

Why do we care about dental health in our pets? Through advances in veterinary medicine, in which we as veterinarians learn more about how diseases affect animal health, we update our recommendations to reflect the best care possible for our patients. We can help your pet live longer and without chronic pain by performing annual comprehensive oral health assessments and treatments under anesthesia.

The oral assessment involves an exam of the oral cavity, checking pocket depth, degree of gingivitis (bleeding gums), and mobility of teeth. Dental radiographs (x-rays) are taken to evaluate the health of the teeth below the gum line. If no problems are identified, then each individual tooth is cleaned and polished above and below the gum line.

Annual comprehensive oral health assessments and treatments by your veterinarian, and daily dental care such as tooth brushing, help your pet live the longest, healthiest life possible. If daily tooth brushing is not an option, visit for products approved by board certified veterinary dentists to reduce plaque and tartar in your pet's mouth.

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