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The Importance of Dental Health

Why is dental health so important? In the Veterinary world, this is a question we address on a regular basis.

Dental disease is one of the most common health concerns we see in the veterinary industry but is also one of the few health concerns that we can treat and prevent. Dental disease affects the whole body, the bacteria from a pet’s mouth will shower the bloodstream with bacteria with every meal. It will affect the heart, the kidney and the immune system, just to name a few.

In an ideal world, every pet would have fabulous breath; they would come willingly to get their teeth brushed daily. They would love the dental diet we purchased and chew just the right amount of the dental chew or toy we gave them that they would never need a general anesthetic to have a dental cleaning. If only … But this is not our reality. The reality is bad breath, diseased teeth and gums, infection, pain, pet’s that will not let us brush their teeth or even let us look in their mouth. Our reality is going to that annual wellness exam and having the veterinarian recommend we put “Fluffy” under a general anesthetic to have her teeth cleaned. A general anesthetic? Why? Can’t we clean her teeth while she’s awake?

The short answer is no. Why? Because it is not safe, not safe for “Fluffy” or the veterinary technician trying to clean her mouth while she is moving around having her system showered with bacteria. It is just not the best way to get the job done correctly. Having a pet under a general anesthetic is the safest, most efficient way to do a proper oral exam and scale and polish their teeth. Their teeth will be scaled and polished, the pocket depth around each tooth will be measured, and the gums be examined for inflammation and abnormalities. If we have concerns about the health of a tooth a radiograph can be done to assess the health and integrity of the tooth below the gum line. If extractions are needed, they can be done in a safe the timely fashion. All of this will improve the health of our pet’s and allow us to start again with a clean slate, a fresh mouth and another opportunity to start a new dental home care routine.

Dog’s Teeth Before Cleaning

Dog’s Teeth After Cleaning

Now prevention becomes our recommended focus. We have many options for dental home care, dental diets, chews, toothbrushes, toothpaste and water additives, just to name a few. But by far most effective home care is daily tooth brushing using a pet-friendly toothpaste. Now brushing a dog or cat’s teeth can be more difficult than it sounds. Starting early will help, handling a pet mouth at a young age will train them to be more acceptant of brushing and will allow you to look in their mouth, this may help detect a problem early.

You can book a dental consult with one of our doctors by calling us at 905-855- 2100, we are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even on Christmas and Boxing Day!

Written by Sherry, RVT

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