Did you know dental health is one of the most overlooked pet health care concerns? Unfortunately, delaying or postponing dental health care will lead to mouth or tooth pain and eventually tooth loss. Dental disease doesn’t affect just the mouth. It can also lead to liver, kidney, heart and immune system disease. In fact, the American Veterinary Dental Society reports that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by age three.
Warning signs to look for in your pet:
- Bad breath
- Sensitivity around the mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Yellow or brown deposits on the teeth
- Bleeding, inflamed, or receding gums
- Loose or missing teeth
- Pawing at the mouth or face
- Difficulty chewing
- Dropping treats
The Animal Hospital of West Chester’s check-ups include monitoring your pet’s dental health, but if you see any of these signs between visits, give us a call at 513-777-5131.
Ways to keep your pet’s teeth healthy:
- Bring your pet in for regular check-ups
- Brush your pet’s teeth at least a few times a week – we’ll show you how
- Choose a pet food formulated to reduce tartar and plaque – ask us for recommendations
- Use plaque-reducing treats and toys
Talk with us about your pet’s dental health. We can prevent and manage your pet’s oral problems before they become serious.
Frequently Asked Questions
Gum disease can cause cats pain and serious dental problems, as well as lead to more serious illnesses, such as heart and kidney disease. But gum disease can be prevented. By beginning early in your cat’s life to care for her teeth, you can spare your cat the discomfort caused by gum disease.
Brushing a pet’s teeth removes only the soft plaque. Once the plaque is mineralized, forming calculus (“tartar”), it cannot be removed by brushing. The calculus then serves as a rough surface upon which more plaque can readily form. Brushing is not very effective below the gum line, where most problems occur. Brushing along with periodic professional care is the best way for maintaining your pet’s mouth.
Bad breath is usually associated with bacteria in the mouth that produce sulphur-containing compounds that not only smell bad, but they also are damaging to the oral tissues. Professional cleaning along with home plaque control gives the best results. Bad breath that returns very shortly after a cleaning indicates that there may be some deep-seated problems that may have been overlooked. Bad breath is occasionally seen with medical conditions such as kidney failure and diabetes.
Pets, like their human owners, can get cavities. However, cavities are relatively rare in cats because cat’s diets generally are not high in decay-causing sugars. Veterinary dental experts have noticed a mild rise in the incidence of cavities among pets fed sugary treats. To avoid cavities in your cat’s mouth, feed only cat food and treats designed for cats.
“Double teeth” occur as a result of the baby teeth not being shed normally when the permanent teeth erupt. The permanent teeth usually come in between 3 and 7 months of age. If the baby tooth is not shed in an orderly fashion, this can lead to displacement of a permanent tooth into a painful position, or formation of pockets of infection at an early age. The retained baby teeth should be extracted, making sure to remove the entire root. There should never be two teeth of the same type in the same place at the same time. If you suspect that your pet has double teeth, they should be evaluated for possible problems.
Although some pain may occur, we take steps to minimize any discomfort your pet might experience. We regularly use local anesthetic blocks (“Novacaine”) like a human dentist. We will typically give pain medication as part of the anesthetic protocol, administer an injection of a long acting anti-inflammatory at the end of the procedure, and send home pain medication as indicated for each patient. Most patients eat as soon as they get home. If you feel your pet is experiencing discomfort after a procedure, call and let us know. We want our patients to be comfortable as soon as possible.
Broken or fractured teeth are common, especially in dogs that are very aggressive chewers and those that have access to hard chew toys. Cats frequently have fractures of the tips of their fangs. At the very least, fractured teeth expose the dentin located under the enamel, which is painful for the animal (have you ever had a painful chipped tooth?). Frequently, bacteria migrate along the exposed dentin via microscopic tubules, and invade and destroy the inside of the tooth. This leads to an abscessed tooth, which may “last” uncomfortably for years before it becomes loose and falls out. The infection inside the tooth may not occur for months after the initial fracture, so an owner may not make the connection between a broken tooth and altered behavior in the pet. Fractures that result in exposure of the inside of the tooth (the area with the nerves and blood vessels) always result in the death and infection of the inside of the tooth. Frequently an owner will notice a small amount of bleeding from the fracture site, or a pink spot in the middle of the fractured area. These require immediate attention, and can also take years to loosen and fall out, causing discomfort the entire time. Even when teeth are painful, most owners will not be aware that there is any problem. Fractured teeth should be examined and radiographed. Smoothing the fracture and applying a sealant can decrease the chances of eventual infection and make your pet more comfortable. Dead or infected teeth should be treated or extracted. Do not depend on your pet to let you know if its mouth is painful.