3 signs your pet needs a dental exam

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Dental disease is the No. 1 veterinary diagnosis, and one of the most commonly overlooked. Here are some signs your pet needs to come to Lancers Square Animal Clinic for a dental exam and cleaning!

1. It’s been more than a year since your dog’s or cat’s last dental exam or cleaning
Most dogs and cats have some evidence of periodontal disease by age 3 – and very small breeds, by age 1.

Periodontal disease – which includes gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (loss of bone and soft tissue around the teeth) – begins with plaque.

Bacteria in the mouth stick to your pet’s teeth, forming a bacterial film. This causes plaque when not cleaned. Minerals in the saliva react with plaque to form calculus (tartar). When plaque and tartar spread beneath the gum line, the tissues around the teeth become damaged, leading to tooth loss over time.

While regular brushing with a toothbrush and pet-friendly toothpaste, dental chews, and certain foods (such as Hill’s T/D diet) help fight plaque and tartar, they are not a substitute for a thorough dental cleaning – and no product can remove tartar and calculus that have already accumulated on the teeth.

2. Your dog or cat has bad breath
Bad breath is one of the top signs that your pet is overdue for a dental cleaning. Unfortunately, it’s one of the few signs. Often, there is no indication that your pet’s periodontal health is at risk.

When signs of periodontal disease do exist, they include bad breath, a reluctance to eat, whining while eating, pawing at the face, excessive drooling, excessive licking around the mouth and nose, or discolored teeth.

3. Your dog or cat has other health problems
Periodontal disease affects more than just your pet’s kissability factor. As periodontal disease progresses, it can affect the nasal passages and the jaw bone, and bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and be carried around the body. Studies in dogs show that dental disease is associated with small changes in the heart, liver, and kidneys that can lead to problems in those organs.

What to expect at a canine or feline dental exam and cleaning
Lancers Square Animal Clinic provides a full range of veterinary dental services. When your pet comes in, you should expect a full day’s stay. Here’s what we do:

  1. Evaluate your pet’s fitness for anesthesia, often running a health screen that includes bloodwork and a urinalysis.
  2. Perform a full dental examination and take dental radiographs (x-rays) to evaluate the structures in the mouth we cannot see. This requires a safe general anesthesia.
  3. Perform an ultrasonic scaling above and below the gum line to remove plaque and calculus.
  4. Polish the teeth to help prevent plaque-forming bacteria from attaching to the teeth.

We recommend an annual dental exam for your dogs and cats so we can visually inspect the teeth for cracked or loose teeth, recessed gums, or obvious plaque and tartar. We recommend one dental cleaning per year, too.

If you have any questions or concerns about your pets dental health, call Lancers Square Animal today to make an appointment.

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