Dental radiographs are crucial for a thorough assessment of oral health. Dental radiographs show the parts of the teeth “below the gumline,” which is where most dental disease is found. The roots and the bone surrounding the roots are able to be seen and assessed. In order to have dental radiographs performed, a pet must be anesthetized and a digital sensor is placed in the mouth and the xray machine is placed close to the patient’s face in order to get the radiographic image. Here is an example of what a normal dental radiograph looks like. All too often, teeth seem fine on the surface but the surrounding bone or root of the teeth could still have serious problems which need to be addressed. Possible problems include tooth root abscesses, root fractures, weakened or loss of jawbone, dissolving roots and cancer. On the flipside, teeth can look very diseased on the surface with heavy tartar and staining but the roots and surrounding bone are healthy. Once a veterinarian has looked at all the teeth in the patient and on the radiographs, only then can they decide which teeth need to be removed or even which teeth do not need to be removed. Here are some pictures that show problems that could not be seen without radiographs: Broken jaw Loss of bone around tooth Tooth root abscess This tooth is only supposed to have 2 roots, the one in the middle is an anomaly and knowing it is there would help with extraction if the tooth ever needed to be removed. In addition to finding problems with teeth, veterinarians are able to remove teeth faster and safer when they know what the problem actually is which means less time for your pet to be under anesthesia and less pain afterward surgery. AHDC is now able to provide your pet with dental radiographs. We recommended for all pets, even ones with no obvious problems above the gumline.
According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats exhibit dental disease by age three. Dental disease that’s not addressed causes infections and other problems elsewhere in the body. With good dental care, you can prevent these problems. Professional cleaning, when needed, is done under general anesthesia. The crowns of the teeth are cleaned with an ultrasonic scaler, and the portions of the teeth under the gums are hand-scaled to remove plaque that would otherwise damage the gums. The teeth are polished to produce a smooth surface to which plaque cannot easily attach, and all debris is flushed from under the gums. Finally, the veterinarian thoroughly examines the pet’s mouth and charts all findings in detail. Teeth are extracted only if necessary to ensure the health of the rest of the mouth. Good dental care keeps your pet’s mouth sweet-smelling and free of pain -– and helps the rest of your pet’s body remain healthy, too. If your veterinarian recommended professional dental cleaning, schedule it now and receive 10 percent off to celebrate National Pet Dental Health Month. Better yet, win a free dental cleaning (exam and cleaning; extractions not included) by entering the Show Us Your Smile contest we described earlier. And when the month is over, remember that good dental care is a year-round endeavor.
Here’s part two of our series on good dental health for your pet. Last week we dicussed the benefits of good dental care. Before we move onto today’s topic — how to brush your pet’s teeth — please take a minute and enter our Show us Your Smile conest. The winner gets a free professional cleaning at our clinic. Second- and third-place winners get a three-month supply of Hill’s Healthy Advantage dog or cat food courtesey of Hills Pet Nutrition. Full contest details are available on our Facebook page. One of the best ways to maintain good dental health is to brush your pet’s teeth. Start by softening the bristles of an ordinary soft toothbrush with warm water and applying pet toothpaste to the brush. Pet toothpastes, which are flavored to appeal to pets, contain enzymes that are specific to the chemistry of the dog and cat mouth. Human toothpastes are not recommended because they are ineffective, foam too much and cause stomach upset when pets swallow them. Gently brush the cheek surfaces of the incisors, the front-most teeth. Over the next few sessions, extend the toothbrush further back in the mouth, so that eventually all teeth are brushed. The pet’s tongue removes much of the plaque from the inside surfaces of the teeth, so brushing should focus on the cheek surfaces of the teeth, where most of the plaque forms. You don’t need to rinse your pet’s mouth, because pet toothpaste is safe if swallowed. Tooth brushing is most effective if done daily, but every-other-day brushing also is beneficial.
February is National Pet Dental Health Month, so this a good time to remember that dogs and cats benefit from good dental care, just as people do. Good dental habits begin early and include a healthy diet (preferably a dental diet approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council), regular tooth brushing, an annual physical examination to detect minor dental problems before they progress to major ones, and professional teeth cleaning when needed. We care so much about your pet’s health, that we are giving away a free dental cleaning as part of dental month. Just login to our Facebook page and join the contest. Simply post a picture of your pet’s “best smile” to enter. The winner is the picture with the most votes. Second- and third-place winners get a three-month supply of Hill’s Prescription Diet t/d dog or cat food courtesey of Hills Pet Nutrition. Full contest details are available on our Facebook page. The benefits of good dental care include more than sweet-smelling breath. Healthy teeth and gums decrease the risk of heart, kidney and liver disease, because bacteria in diseased gums travel through the bloodstream to these organs. In addition, good dental health reduces the need for tooth extractions. Signs of dental disease include bad breath, gingivitis (a red gum line which may actually shrink back from its usual position), loose teeth and decreased interest in food that requires chewing. Some pets even become lethargic as their mouths become more painful.