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Protect Your Pet’s Teeth -Don’t let them suffer in silence

Protecting pet’s teeth protects the pet!

If you have ever been with your pet for its preventive care exam you know we really preach dental care for your pet. Mouth health is so important for many reasons!

#1 – Dental disease and infections and broken teeth and abscessed teeth HURT! And we do not want our patients to be in pain.

#2 – Infections in the mouth can spread bacteria into the blood stream and then anywhere the blood goes (which is everywhere!). New studies in dogs show that these bacteria do in fact end up in the liver, kidneys and valves of the heart.

#3 – When there is infection in the mouth, the body is constantly on “high alert” and fighting infection, day after day, week after week, year after year – this is really hard work and stresses the immune system.

#4 – Dental disease early on is treatable – but as it progresses things happen that we can still treat but there is a lot of bone loss and even tooth loss – once a tooth is gone, it’s gone. And, don’t forget, by the time a tooth is lost that pet has been in pain for not days, but years.

#5 – Home care SIGNIFICANTLY reduces the pain, infection and progression of dental disease.

Here is a picture of a dog’s mouth who routinely has their teeth brushed. This is a full year after his last comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment (“dental”) under anesthesia. Looks pretty good – there is some tartar but no gingivitis at all and the tartar isn’t even touching the gum line.

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And, a picture of a dog’s teeth who, not only never gets their teeth brushed, but the owner refuses dental care under anesthesia as well. This dog is only 8 years old. He already has a lot of tartar (this is one of the better teeth in the mouth, the back ones are much worse). The tartar is not only touching the gum line and causing gingivitis but there is starting to be recession of the gums as the bacteria “eat away” at the attachment of the gum to the tooth.

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And a picture of a dog whose owners don’t brush but have committed to keeping their pets mouth healthy with yearly professional cleaning…There is tartar, there is even a little gingivitis; but no recession. And, because the owners consistently have the comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment done; this dogs teeth never look any worse than this picture. He is also 8 years old. He has all 42 of his teeth and no bone loss on x-rays.

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All these dogs are about the same size. Then there is the worst case scenario. This is a dog that we did the comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment on as a donation to Tri-County Humane Society. We do this every year for Dental Health Month (February) and in 2013 also did an additional 4 procedures to try to promote awareness of the seriousness of dental disease.

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This dogs mouth not only stunk, he couldn’t even close his mouth. You couldn’t see most of the teeth because of the amount of disease, tartar, inflammation and pus. He lost 36 teeth that day – a sad statistic but worse, he didn’t get this way overnight. He was in pain the vast majority of his short 8 years. The cost of his comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment was just over $1800.00. Yes, that’s expensive but oh so preventable. If the owners had committed to cleaning the teeth yearly that would equate to 6 years of stage 1 dental cleanings at $225.00 a piece and a tooth brush and some tooth paste AND more importantly your sweet dog has great breath, feels terrific, has all 42 teeth that he should have and his body hasn’t been fighting infection his whole life. Which is better? Split up that $1800 over 8 years and tooth brushing or pay it all at once and have your dog with hardly any teeth – You be the judge for your own pet, but I know what I would choose and what I advocate for!!

So what if you just can’t brush teeth – then at a minimum having your pets teeth professionally cleaned once (or twice) a year will help keep the mouth healthy. There is a lot that goes into a dental cleaning under anesthesia at CAH that makes sure your pet is as safe as absolutely possible and that we get every tooth cleaned and evaluated appropriately.

In between cleanings there are things you can do from Aquadent (a “mouthwash”), to specially designed dental diets, to dental treats, dental wipes. We are here to help! So, don’t ignore your pets mouth, let us help you set up a home care plan that both you and your pet can live with day in and day out. One day of dental care a month just isn’t enough. Dogs and cats build up tartar 5 times faster than people do.

Dental health month is upon us – I’ll step down off my soapbox for the moment!

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