Here at the clinic, we see much loved pets present with problematic dental health concerns almost on a daily basis. While most fur-parents understandably seem to accidentally overlook their pets’ oral hygiene for more ‘pressing’ concerns like vaccinations, injuries and ailments, dental health remains a crucial factor in helping us Veterinarians analyse overall health, diagnose conditions and ensure optimum comfort for all of our four-legged friends.
Dental disease is the most common oral issue we’re presented with at Direct Vet Services. Ranging from mild tartar build up all the way to the irreversible damage of full tooth, root and gum damage that usually results in further associated health complications and ultimately, extraction.
Dental disease, though common, is easily preventable and easy to spot when you know what you are looking for.
Take 5 minutes this week to check for the following red flags ~
- Smelly breath
- Heavily discoloured teeth
- Loose teeth or gums that recede too high
- Bleeding or discoloured gums
- Sensitivity of the mouth
- Inability or avoidance to chew
- Decreased appetite
- Excessive saliva
- Changes in behaviour, like increased aggression, tiredness or lethargy
If left untreated, dental disease can be connected to higher risks of ~
- Unnecessary pain
- Gum gingivitis
- Degradation of the bone between the nasal and oral cavitiy
- Jaw fractures
- Diabetes-related complications
- Liver, kidney and even heart disease
To assist with ensuring your pets’ teeth and gums are kept in tip-top shape throughout their lifetime, we’ve invested in Dental X–ray equipment and other than the University of Melbourne are the only local clinic to have them, that we are aware of. These have proven invaluable in helping patients suffering from dental disease. Pets are a more than a little different to us when it comes to teeth. Our teeth are block shaped and sit side-by-side. This allows food to get between them and leads to cavities. Most of our disease is above the gum line. The same is definitely NOT true for our pets. Did you know that pets with furry faces have much worse dental disease than those with short hair? Did you know that because their teeth are pyramid shaped they need to rock in the jaw when chewing to maintain the ligament support structures – hence chewy meats like hearts and tongues (gag) are the best for exercising the teeth? Did you know that their crowns don’t touch each other, their teeth work not by grinding but by cutting their food? As the teeth slide past one another they cut the food much like scissors. So other than broken crowns and the occasional misalignment, everything dental is going on inside the tooth or under the gum line.
So, why are X-rays important?
Well, while we have your pet asleep we can see if the teeth are affected by disease above the gum line, we can also reveal double the information about what is going on below the gum line, which could make all the difference when it comes to saving or removing teeth.
This animal had pearly whites but had stopped chewing on one side of the mouth. X–rays revealed that there was no bone around most of the tooth root and they had to go. If we just relied on how pretty they looked, the teeth would have been left and the pet continue to experience pain.
Then there is the other side of the coin. This dog had a darkened tooth which would often indicate disease, without dental X-rays most would assume it required extraction. Comparing with the same K9 on the other side we could see that the dark channel in the middle was larger meaning the tooth had died when it was less mature and the cavity that the nerve and blood supply runs in canal had died. What was also apparent was that the root of the tooth at this stage is still healthy. This meant that this tooth got to stay, and I am sure the dog appreciated still being able to chow down on his favourite things. In this case it prevented us removing an otherwise healthy tooth because of how it looked.
So, as you can see, having both Dental X-ray equipment on site means we are able to provide our patients with a fabulous standard of care, make decisions in providing treatment early and having the best information to make those decisions possible.
You’d be forgiven for not realizing just how critical your pet’s dental health is in determining their overall condition. It’s easy to forget because we don’t often go poking around inside our dog or cats’ mouth, and so, out of sight, out of mind tends to be the general consensus. But with Dental Health Awareness month arriving this August, it’s the perfect time to get down and dirty and ‘flip the lip’ of your pets to assess their oral hygiene and risk of dental disease.
No need to panic or rush. We are here for the long term to provide dental care for your pet. If you book during July 2020 for any future appointment time this year, we will include dental X-rays at $20 per film (a full mouth usually requires 6 + $20 consumables fee) and a free full sized product from OxyFresh, suitable for the ongoing dental care of your pet. Don’t know when you last had dental X-rays? Recently mine cost $120 per film! For that price, your pet is a full head above the rest. Give us a call on 03 9369 1822 to pre-book your pet in for a dental health check.