When was the last time you looked in your pet’s mouth?

In honor of our tagline, “News and notes straight from the horse’s (and dog’s and cat’s) mouth,” we thought it would be fitting that our introductory post was literally about what is going on in your pet’s mouth.


 Well…what did you see?   And what did you SMELL?  Look closely now and don’t be surprised if they aren’t pearly white!

Because a pet’s mouth is difficult to see and thus evaluate, the oral cavity often suffers from a lack of routine care. But how often do YOU brush and go to the hygienist and dentist?…probably more often than your pets do.   Unfortunately, most pet’s mouths have some degree of infection, and they don’t get the attentive oral care they need.  What’s especially challenging for pet owners is that more than half of what goes on in the mouth is NOT visible to the naked eye.

But perhaps with some insight, you will be more astute to the subtleties of progressive periodontal disease.   Think about these scenarios:

Does your dog chew tennis balls?

Chewing on tennis balls can lead to severe  wearing and pulp exposure (visible) causing the root enamel and pulp cavity to resorb or dissolve away (requires an x-ray).  Although this may not seem painful at first, these diseased teeth are at risk for infection and need to be removed.

Does your pet have bad breath?

This unmistakable smell is due to the bacterial infection that could be discouraged if their teeth were brushed daily.  Most pets get more attention after a professional periodontal treatment.

Does your pet have a red line where the tooth and gum meet?

This is caused by inflammation related to the infection and is the first step of gum recession and disease.  If it is caught early, we have a chance at saving the tooth and preventing bacteria from entering the bloodstream.  Studies prove that the heart valves, liver and kidneys can become affected from oral bacteria so it is vital to address treatment at this stage.

Does your cat appear to have lost its tooth?

Surprisingly, even though there may be a space where a tooth is supposed to be, radiographs will often show that the root is still present.  These roots are diseased and very painful, and often the gum line is red and inflamed.  These roots frequently need to be removed and are called resorptive lesions.

Let us help!

Oral health is graded on a scale from zero to four….four being the most severe and thus will require the most treatment.  At your next visit, you can show us what YOU see, and we can discuss the best treatment options to keep your pet’s kisses fresh and disease free!

– Dr. Betsy Henly contributed to this article.

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