February is “Pet Dental Health Month.” The Ft. Bragg Veterinary Center would like to share with pet owners the importance of pet dental health. This article will discuss briefly how to recognize, prevent, and treat dental disease in our pets.
Just as it is with people, good oral health is important for good overall health in our pets. Severe dental disease can lead to issues with the heart, liver, and kidneys. This is why it is important for us to care for our pets teeth at home, recognize signs of oral disease, and understand the importance of routine veterinary dental care.
What are some signs of oral and dental diseases in dogs and cats?

Bad breath Loose teeth Teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar Your pet shies away when you touch the mouth area because they are in pain Dogs may growl and snap and cats may hiss because they are in pain Rubbing their face on the carpet and furniture because they are in pain Drooling or dropping food from the mouth Red, swollen gums Bleeding from the mouth Ulcers in the mouth or lips Open wounds in the mouth, on the lower jaws, on the face, or under the eye  Loss of appetite and/or loss of weight (this can result from many diseases and early veterinary examination is important) What is periodontal disease?
“Periodontal disease is no different in pets than in humans. Periodontal disease is the destruction of bone, gum tissue, and the structures that hold teeth in place. Periodontal disease is caused by bacterial infection that spreads, unseen, beneath the gumline. As the disease progresses, it destroys the bone around the tooth roots leading to mobile, painful teeth. Dogs and cats with advanced periodontal disease often require oral surgery to extract many teeth,” according to the American Veterinary Dental College.
How do I know if my pet has periodontal disease?
“The truth is that you don’t. Unfortunately, by the time there are obvious signs of periodontal disease, such as bad breath and loose teeth, there is already significant damage. Periodontal disease begins and exists under the gumline where it is not visible. White teeth do not mean that your pet is free from disease. The only way to identify periodontal disease early is through regular veterinary dental cleanings under anesthesia. This allows for your pet’s mouth to be thoroughly evaluated, cleaned, and radiographed to identify bone loss, periodontal pockets, and other disease involving the tooth root and surrounding bone,” according to the American Veterinary Dental College.
How can you help prevent periodontal disease in your pets?

Annual veterinary dental cleanings after age two, or sooner as indicated Teeth brushing at least 3 times a week with a soft bristle brush and pet friendly toothpaste  Combine the above with a preventive oral healthcare product awarded the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of acceptance , which includes diets, treats, chews, water-additives, sprays and wipes. Dental health is just as important for our pets as it is for us! It affects quality of life and as disease progresses can cause damage to the heart, liver and kidneys. Periodontal disease occurs below the gumline, so it often cannot be detected by the naked eye. This is why annual veterinary dental cleanings are important. Some signs of oral disease include: bad breath, red and/or bleeding gums, loose teeth, and visual tartar/calculus. By the time these signs are noted there is often already extensive damage. Make an effort to brush your pet’s teeth at least 3 times a week. Combine this with another oral healthcare product and you will be well on your way to helping your pet have excellent dental health. Your pet will thank you for it!
Fort Bragg Veterinary Center for the “Smooch your Pooch” and dental health awareness events will be held from Feb. 12 to 16. For additional information, visit http://avdc.org.