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Dental Examinations - Why Are They Important?

Did you know that dental disease is one of the most common diseases in both dogs and cats? Though often overlooked, oral care for our pets is just as important as it is for us. Regular dental exams, combined with good dental hygiene can help prevent the development of serious oral problems and can improve the overall well-being of your pet. Read on to find out why and how.



What Happens In a Dental Exam?


A pet dental examination is not too dissimilar to a human dental check-up. The first thing your veterinarian will do is perform a physical exam of your pet's mouth. When they do this, they will be screening your pet's mouth for a variety of issues including:


  • Chipped or broken teeth

  • Abscesses or cysts

  • Tumours

  • Dental pain

  • Dental disease.


If your veterinarian notices signs of any of the above issues, they may suggest further investigation is needed before working out a treatment plan. This could include dental x-rays or blood tests.


For some dental examinations, particularly ones with a dental clean, your veterinarian will most likely perform the examination whilst your pet is under general anaesthesia.

This makes the procedure and examination much less stressful for the pet and allows the dentists to have a deeper examination of the pet's oral health.



So Why Are They Important? Here Are Our 5 Reasons To Book A Dental Exam:


1. Your pet may not show that they’re in pain


It can sometimes be hard to realise if your pet is in pain, particularly if caused by dental problems which are hard to see/spot. Many animals are secretive about their pain and learn to tolerate it until it becomes unbearable. Therefore, sometimes diseases, chipped teeth or other issues can go amiss unless checked by a veterinarian.


2. Dental disease can lead to more severe health problems


As well as tooth decay and halitosis (bad breath), dental disease can cause much more sinister health problems, not just limited to your pet's mouth! The bacteria in the tartar on teeth, caused by dental disease, can enter a pet's bloodstream and travel to vital organs which can lead to organ failure or systemic disease. The heart and liver are especially prone to developing inflammation from dental disease. In fact, the bacteria that is found in pets with dental disease is often the same bacteria found in infected heart valves in heart disease.


3. There may be more going on in your pet’s mouth


As well as dental diseases, there are a whole array of things that could be causing your pet an issue inside their mouth. Rarely, do pet owners open their pet’s mouth wide enough to have a good look inside, however, this is needed to check for other problems such as extra or missing teeth, jaw fractures, palate defects, misalignment of teeth, or even tumours. A veterinarian can check for all of these when performing a dental examination.


4. Early intervention can help save money


Like most diseases, illnesses, or infections, early intervention makes treatment easier and therefore cheaper. Having your pet's teeth checked regularly and following advice such as having a scale and polish, rather than ignoring the problem until the only alternative is tooth extraction, can save you both money and your pet's discomfort.


5. Your pet's teeth are constantly under threat


Just like humans, your pet’s teeth are constantly bombarded with bacteria which causes a buildup of plaque and tartar. Dogs and cats from as young as 3 years can have periodontal (gum) disease, which when left unchecked can cause more serious problems. Not only this, but your pet is constantly using their teeth in their everyday life, to bite, chew through things, carry items, and even play. This can easily lead to a chipped or missing tooth which could cause your pet harm.



Professional Dental Cleaning


Regular dental cleaning is equally as important as dental examinations. Whilst cleaning your pet’s teeth at home is important, we also suggest professional cleaning be carried out by your vet under anaesthetic to assess all the teeth from all angles. This removes food debris, plaque, tartar, or other substances that can lead to the growth of bacteria.


Conscious Dental Cleaning


Whilst dental cleaning is very important, we strongly advise against having this service done at the groomers. Conscious dental cleaning from a groomer or untrained personal can be very distressful, painful, and uncomfortable for your pet. Not only that, but due to the pet being awake and in pain, it can be dangerous for the groomers to perform.


Groomers are also only able to scale visible tartar using hand tools (which can cause deep grooves and damage the teeth) making cleaning only cosmetic on the teeth you can see and potentially mask a problem tooth, this can also release bacteria into the bloodstream through the gums risking further complications for your pet. Read our blog on ‘Teeth Cleaning At Your Groomers, Is It Safe?’ to learn more.


For more advice or to book a dental appointment, give us a call on 02084594729 today.



Order Dr Hannah Parkin's Amazing Guide To Caring For Your New Puppy.
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