Friday, October 14, 2016

Dental Health: It's more than just bad breath

It's October, and we at Memphis Animal Clinic are celebrating with a dental health month.  In recognition of this, it seems like an opportune time to briefly discuss the benefits of dental health in our pets.  Poor dental health in our pets can be considerably more complicated than halitosis and tartar build up: it can also become a breeding ground for bad bacteria that may then be introduced to the patients system, affecting the liver, kidneys, heart, and other organs.  Additionally, our pets can have difficulty communicating that they are in pain or may hold a stoic disposition, so it is important to maintain a close eye to ensure that they are not experiencing any undue suffering.

Oral pain can manifest from anything from infections, swelling, or fractures to issues like stomatitis or tooth resorption to conditions as serious as neoplasia.  Pets can show that they are experiencing oral pain with symptoms potentially including but not limited to inappetance, abnormal behavior, and enhanced salivation; however, due to limitations in communication, it is important to regularly have your pets mouth checked to ensure everything is alright.  This is especially important in our feline friends, as though they do not tend to develop tartar build-up as extensive as their canine counterparts, they do tend to be at an increased risk for stomatitis (inflammation) and tooth resorption (a process by which all or part of a tooth's structure can be lost due to a physiological response) which can be harder to notice at a cursory glance.

In recognition of this, we strongly encourage not only regular dental check-ups and cleanings, but also a consistent regimen of preventative maintenance care.  While the best form of maintenance is tooth brushing with an enzymatic toothpaste specific to your pet's species, there can be understandable difficulties, particularly since there is a significant drop in efficacy if not done on a daily basis.  Luckily, there are alternatives ranging from dental chews to water and food additives that can help break down the biofilm that develops in your pets teeth before it turns into plaque.  The most important aspect regardless of which method you choose is simply consistency.  If you have any questions regarding your pet's oral health, feel free to stop by for an oral exam (free for the month of October), or call us at (901)272-7411.

Edward Allendorfer
Dental Health Assistant at Memphis Animal Clinic

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