February is Veterinary Dental Health Month!

Dental care is possibly one of the most overlooked aspects of caring for a pet.  We brush our teeth several times a day, visit the dentist a few times a year, and most of us still end up having an issue or two during our lifetime.  Pets are no different, yet some of them go their entire life without any dental care at all.  According to a study done by the American Veterinary Dental Association 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of dental disease by the age of three!

Bacteria combine with saliva and food on the teeth and gums, causing plaque to form.  Eventually this becomes a hard substance called tartar.  The accumulation of plaque and tartar on the teeth can lead to inflammation and destruction of the tissues that support the teeth, resulting in periodontal disease.  Untreated this can lead to oral pain as well as the eventual loss of teeth.  Perhaps even more devastating is the damage that can be caused to other organs such as the liver, heart, and kidneys secondary to inflammation and infection.

Signs of oral disease include bad breath, changes in eating habits, and pawing at the face.  Some pets never show signs of a problem until it is too late, however.  Wellness checkups are the most effective means of detecting problems early and resolving them before permanent damage results. Make sure to ask your vet if it’s time for a dental check-up. Your pet will be glad you did!

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