For the same reason humans need to have their teeth cleaned. Preventive dental care is one of the most neglected aspects of your pet’s healthcare. Although cavities are a problem in dogs and cats the most frequent dental issue is periodontal gum disease.
Periodontal gum disease is caused by a build-up of plaque and calculus below the gum line. Plaque is a sticky, colorless, bacterial film that forms continually on the teeth. Gums recede as calculus builds up, forming bacteria filled pockets that if left untreated will lead to tooth loss.
Bacteria infect gum tissues, the roots of teeth and erode the surrounding bones that secure teeth. If left untreated the teeth will eventually fall out. Furthermore, the bacteria are carried through the body in the blood stream and can infect other organs and/or weaken your pet’s immune system.
Pets may or may not present signs of dental problems. Some pets demonstrate no visible symptoms but others will appear depressed and show pain when eating. Bad breath and drooling are often frequent signs of dental disease. Your pet’s teeth should normally be white and smooth and your pet’s gums should be pink, smooth, and adhere tightly to the teeth. Diseased gums are thick, red, and bleed easily. If any of these signs are present, your pet will need medical attention.
Treatment for most pets includes having your veterinarian remove calculus at and beneath the gum line. Polishing smoothes tooth surfaces to decrease bacterial growth. Your pet’s dental procedure will begin with a physical examination. This is important to evaluate your pet’s general health. After this exam, your pet will be administered an intravenous sedative and then gas anesthesia is given for a safe and painless dental procedure. If your pet is 5 years of age or older we highly suggest pre-procedural blood work to help detect potentially hidden health problems that could complicate the surgery.