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February is National Pet Dental Health Month!

February is National Pet Dental Health Month!
March 14, 2018

Pet Dental Month: Discussed by your local Phoenix, AZ veterinarian

This is the time of year we remind our pet owners about the importance of keeping dental health a priority for dogs, cats, or ferrets. Preventive dental care is one of the best methods of keeping your pet healthy and happy, no matter what age they may be. Detecting hidden dental diseases early can reduce pain, improve quality of life, and reduce further health problems. Please let us know if you have any questions regarding how to improve your pet's preventive dental management program.

There are many things you can do to support your pet's dental health. Products that have shown a statistical decrease in plaque and/or tartar are listed on VOHC.org.  Many items that dogs chew are too hard & cause preventable enamel fractures which expose the porous dentin. These exposed pores allow bacteria to enter the pulp chamber, contributing to pulpitis and eventual death of the tooth. A good rule of thumb when selecting chew toys for your dog is to select ones that can be indented slightly with a fingernail.  Dental diets and water additives help reduce tartar & plaque formation, but the most effective control is daily tooth brushing.  Starting young to train is ideal, but even an old dog can learn new tricks with positive reinforcement.

Once the plaque & tartar has accumulated, or if gingivitis is noted, more advanced treatment is needed.  A recent fad of anesthesia-free dental scaling techniques has been repeatedly demonstrated to be detrimental to the pet's overall dental health & results in a cosmetic improvement only.  An effective dental cleaning includes a Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment & Treatment (COHAT).  Seventy percent of the tooth is located under the gumline. Therefore, dental x-rays and probing under the gumline are needed to determine if problems are present. In addition, there are areas around the teeth, behind the tongue, and in the back of the mouth that can only be visualized under anesthesia.

The most common cause of chronic dental problems in pets is periodontal disease.  There is a genetic component to this disease & small breeds tend to be more prone to develop this progressive health problem.  As with humans, the management requires frequent dental procedures and eventually results in the loss of teeth.  If these periodontal pockets are not managed sufficiently, the pet has chronic dental pain and the bacteria repeatedly showers the heart valves, liver, and kidneys.  This reduces the overall quality of health. In many cases, to reduce the frequency of dental cleanings and needed home care, affected teeth are extracted.  This approach focuses on the importance of the pet's overall health instead of the cosmetics of retaining diseased teeth. 

The good news is that there are many things that you can do to ensure your pet stays healthy.  Between home dental care & routine preventive care, a great deal of the dental disease common to our pets can be avoided or significantly reduced. 

Come into North Central Animal Hospital in Phoenix, AZ for Pet Dental Checkup Today!

If you ever have any questions related to your pet's health, remember we are but a phone call, text, or email away!  Please let us know how we can help you in 2018.  We are looking forward to another amazing year.  Thank you for sharing your pets with us.


Dr Hillary Frank & the Staff at North Central Animal Hospital