After a snack of popcorn or a sweet, sticky treat, brushing your teeth helps your mouth feel clean again. However, your furry pal cannot brush their teeth on their own, and you need to give them a helping hand so that food coating does not build up over time. As oral bacteria, food, and other debris accumulate in your pet’s mouth, plaque forms, and turns into rock-hard tartar in only a few days. Plaque that has hardened into tartar cannot be brushed away. Instead, a trip to your Stone Ridge Veterinary Medical Center of Conroe veterinarian is needed, to remove the stuck-on tartar, and assess your pet’s oral health.

Question: Why is dental health so important to my pet’s overall health?

Answer: Many pet owners believe their cat or dog’s stinky breath is normal, but this dental disease sign could be the first clue to a more insidious problem. While oral bacteria certainly attack the teeth, gums, and other mouth structures, this sneaky pathogen can slip into your pet’s bloodstream through inflamed gums, and travel to the heart, kidneys, and liver, causing serious disease. In fact, a common cause of heart disease in pets with dental disease is the accumulation of bacteria on the heart valves. Since dental health has such a wide-reaching effect on your furry pal’s health, practicing good oral hygiene is vital. 

Q: What are dental disease signs in pets?

A: You may be familiar with unbearable toothache pain, yet your pet in similar pain likely hides their dental disease signs. Oftentimes, pet owners don’t realize their cat or dog has dental disease until the condition has progressed, which means regular checkups are important for spotting issues before they become serious. Monitor your pet for the following dental disease signs, to catch problems early:

  • Bad breath
  • Brown or yellow plaque and tartar accumulation on the teeth
  • Red, inflamed, or bleeding gums
  • Blood on chew toys
  • Refusal to eat hard food or treats
  • Dropping food while eating
  • Chewing on one side of the mouth

Your pet will be suffering a significant amount of infection and pain before they stop eating, so ensure you regularly check their mouth, to prevent dental disease from progressing to that point.

Q: How can I keep my pet’s teeth and mouth healthy?

A: Since dental disease can so broadly affect your pet’s overall health, it’s in their best interest to ensure their mouth remains healthy and disease-free. A multifaceted approach, which is the best way to tackle tough tartar, should focus on two main areasat-home and professional veterinary dental care that should include:

  • Daily toothbrushing
  • Dental chews and treats
  • Food and water additives
  • Prescription dental diets
  • Oral sealants, wipes, and rinses
  • Annual or biannual dental cleanings
  • Full-mouth dental X-rays

When choosing your pet’s dental health products, keep in mind that they’re not all created equal. Search for products accepted by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), which are proven to slow plaque and tartar accumulation. 

Q: Why are oral X-rays necessary for every pet during their dental cleaning?

A: Oral X-rays are not only important for pets with a known periodontal problem, like resorptive disease, but also are essential for evaluating a healthy-seeming mouth to ensure no hidden problems exist. Since pets are so incredible at hiding dental disease, a thorough oral exam and dental X-rays must be performed to spot periodontal issues.

Question: What problems can oral X-rays reveal in my pet?

Answer: Full-mouth dental X-rays are an important diagnostic tool for discovering hidden periodontal problems. As much as 60% of a tooth’s structure lies below the gum line, so oral X-rays are needed to gauge the full extent of disease, and determine how best to treat the problem. Periodontal problems that can be diagnosed with oral X-rays include:

  • Tooth fractures
  • Retained teeth
  • Resorptive lesions
  • Tooth-root abscesses
  • Fragmented tooth roots
  • Jawbone loss
  • Endodontic disease
  • Oral tumors

If your pet has a tooth that requires extraction, such as a fractured tooth or one with a resorptive lesion, dental X-rays are an invaluable tool for post-operative evaluation. After your pet’s tooth has been extracted, we take follow-up X-rays to ensure all tooth roots and fragments have been removed, since these tiny pieces can remain behind and cause substantial infection and pain.

Are you wondering what may be lurking below your pet’s gum line? Contact our Stone Ridge of Conroe team, and schedule your four-legged friend’s oral health assessment and treatment.