February is National Pet Dental Health Month! Dental health can sometimes be overlooked by pet owners, but not taking care of your pet’s teeth can lead to serious health problems- and prevention all starts at home!
What kinds of health issues affect dogs’ mouths? Dogs tend to get fractured teeth, tooth root abscesses (with or without tooth fracture) and periodontal (gum) disease. In general veterinary practice, fractured teeth and tooth root abscesses are treated by extracting the affected teeth.
Periodontal disease is what we deal with most commonly in dogs. It is usually progressive over time and the progression is governed by genetic factors, the amount of regular home dental treatment the dog is receiving, and the amount of veterinary dental care the dog is receiving. Teeth that are severely affected will often be loose and the tissues surrounding the tooth will be infected. Less affected teeth will have pockets of infection under the gum line which can’t be seen without having a dental exam under anesthesia. The infection and the inflammation that it creates are generally chronic over months to years and are detrimental to the overall health of the dog, so trying to intervene earlier in the disease process is better for them.
When we see patients at AMCMA for an anesthetized dental exam and cleaning (and other procedures depending on what we find), we do digital x-rays to check for bone loss around the teeth as well as the roots and gums, and we take a dental probe and trace it around the base of each tooth checking for loose gum tissue and pockets that run alongside the root of the tooth. Teeth that are severely affected are extracted. Teeth that are less affected can be cleaned, the pocket flushed out and an antibiotic gel called Clindoral applied into the pocket.
We also use a specially formulated veterinary dental sealant called Sanos. Sanos acts like a liquid bandage that seals the subgingival line (gingival sulcus) against the formation of plaque yet allows water and oxygen to pass through. Applied at the end of a professional dental clean, it will extend the benefits of the clean by a minimum of 6 months.
The best way to prevent these kinds of issues for your dog is regular maintenance and check-ups. AMCMA also offers a range of products you can use at home to keep your dog’s mouth healthy! Dental chews are popular among owners and dogs alike, and can help keep teeth clean and disease-free. We also offer dental wipes, dental flakes, water additives, and toothbrush/toothpaste sets, depending on your pet’s specific needs.
If you notice anything unusual in your dog’s mouth, be sure to mention it to your veterinarian at their next visit. We want all our patients to smile bright!