October is a Dental Health Awareness Month at Elkwood Animal Hospital!
As part of our ongoing effort to help your pets live long and happy, healthy lives we offer occasional monthly specials to address specific health concerns. Dental health is a particularly prevalent but underlooked disease.
In October we offer 10% off all dental procedures, including cleanings! We also provide free dental goody bags for your pet after his/her procedure, so you can continue with good oral health care at home. Feel free to call us for more information! 540-825-1777
This year we are also releasing some articles addressing dental health on a more in-depth level. Please enjoy our first article below!
Dental Disease – A Silent Problem With Big Health Consequences
There’s a disease affecting many of our pets that goes ignored or untreated on a regular basis. According to the American Veterinary Dental College, periodontal disease (disease of the gums and teeth) is THE most common clinical condition in adult dogs and cats, and affects a majority of all pets over the age of three years. That’s a lot of disease!
We would treat a cut, a rash, or a limp in our furry family members, but the painful, chronic infection in our pets’ mouths doesn’t get addressed nearly as frequently. It’s a mostly “silent” disease, and oftentimes even observant owners don’t know it is a problem until it is severe. In the meantime, our pets suffer from toothaches and severe gum sensitivity, loose or broken teeth, and a source of constant infection that may threaten other important organs in the body. Dogs and cats often suffer in silence when it comes to this disease because it is a gradual process to which they adjust over time. Their stoic natures don’t make the disease any less serious, however!
How does dental & periodontal (gum) disease develop?
Natural bacteria live in every pet’s mouth. These bacteria enjoy living in the moist, warm environment, and “sharing” the pet’s meals. They first form a sticky film over the surface of the teeth, which can’t be seen when we look at the teeth. This is what we try to brush away when we brush the teeth. If the film stays in place for enough time, this film hardens into unsightly plaque and dental calculus (tartar) that we see on the teeth.
Tartar acts as a sturdy, protective “homebase” for the bacteria. From there, the infection can easily spread up under the gum line, compromising the root of the tooth and bone of the jaw. The bacteria destroys the bone and connective tissues and eventually causes the teeth to loosen or fall out. This deep infection can also lead to jaw fractures or bone abscesses (pockets of infected bone). The body attempts to send disease-fighting immune cells through the bloodstream to the gums, but can never completely get rid of the infection due to the entrenched disease.
How can dental disease affect the rest of my pet’s health?
Bacteria infecting the mouth can also travel back into the bloodstream and affect other body organs, including the heart, liver, and kidneys. Your pet’s immune system works overtime trying to combat this steady flow of bacteria, however in some cases, the bacteria can lead to other serious illnesses. Senior animals, who naturally have a slightly decreased immune system, may be particularly at risk, and they are often the ones with the most advanced disease. Antibiotic therapy cannot cure the infection, only temporarily decrease the bacteria and lessen the symptoms, because the bacteria are well-established in the mouth. Removing infected teeth (thus removing the source of infection) is often the only way to make your pet healthy again.
Dental disease is a huge problem for your pet. You may not notice that it is there, but it causes tremendous health issues for your aging companion. Our next article will focus on what’s involved in the Complete Oral Health Assessment and Treatment.
October is one of our dental health focus months! Please bring you pet in today to be evaluated by a veterinarian to see if a dental cleaning can make your pet healthier. During October, receive 10% off any dental procedures, and a free dental health “goody bag” for your pet after the procedure!
More information from the American Veterinary Dental College: