Alarmed at the fact that nearly 80 percent of dogs and cats have some type of periodontal disease, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA) started National Pet Dental Health Month several years ago. Even more startling than four out of five companion animals having periodontal disease is that most develop it before they reach age three. The AMVA started this campaign in hopes of raising awareness of the importance of everyday dental care at home and annual check-ups and cleanings by a veterinarian.
What to Expect at Your Pet’s Oral Exam and Cleaning
Our veterinarians examine the following at each appointment:
- Face and head for signs of discharge or swelling
- Gums and outside tooth surfaces for plaque and tartar
- Strength of your pet’s bite
- Tongue and inner surfaces of the gums and teeth
- Condition of the salivary glands and lymph nodes
If you choose to have us clean your pet’s teeth, we first provide him with anesthesia to ensure cooperation. After taking X-rays of his teeth and bones, the next step is to flush his mouth with a solution that kills bacteria. We then user a professional scaler to eliminate calculus above and below the gum line. After completing that, we polish your pet’s teeth and check the gums and individual teeth for any signs of disease. Lastly, we flush his mouth again with an anti-bacterial agent and record any abnormalities. If we discover any, we develop a plan for follow-up treatment.
Caring for Your Pet’s Teeth at Home
Dental exams and cleanings are normally only once a year, so what you do at home between appointments is vital. If you don’t brush your pet’s teeth now, start slowly with a step-by-step process. Approach her at a time when she’s relaxed and allow her to sniff a dab of toothpaste from your finger or a small toothbrush. The next day, put the brush in her mouth but don’t move it. After that, put a tiny amount of toothpaste on a toothbrush and place it in her mouth.
The idea is to progress gradually until you have added one new step each day. Eventually, you want to work your way up to a two-minute brushing session every day. It’s fine to give dogs a daily dental chew, but they should not take the place of routine toothbrushing. Even the most resistant pets can come to accept oral healthcare at home if you’re calm, consistent, and offer a lot of praise.
When to Schedule an Immediate Oral Evaluation
Please schedule an appointment with Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo as soon as possible if you notice any of these symptoms:
Persistent bad breath
- Brown or yellow staining on the teeth
- Excess drooling
- Refusal or reluctance to eat
- Eating slowly or much less than usual
Any of these symptoms could indicate gum disease. You may be able to save your pet’s teeth and prevent further progression of any problems by requesting a prompt evaluation
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