Making sure that your pets have a clean bill of dental health

Next month is not only the month of love, but dental health month. It is a good time for pet owners to remember their animals’ teeth and gums.

The patient is an eight year old boxer named Isabella, but this is no ordinary vet checkup. Isabella is here for dental work.

She has overgrown gums and a cyst in her mouth. Isabella’s owners discovered this on a recent vet visit.

Her owner Thomas Dillon states, “Once you know there’s an issue in the mouth, as an owner you become a little bit consumed with the behaviors as it relates to eating. I have noticed there’s just not enough room in her mouth for her tongue or anything else.”

At the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, they do procedures like root canals, tooth restorations, and oral surgeries.

Overgrown gums like in Isabella’s case can lead to bacteria growth, which can get into an animal’s bloodstream and affect other parts of the body.

February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Leaders here at UTCVM say that you should have your pet’s teeth checked once a year, and more often if they are older or a smaller breed of dog.

According to Tiffany Hunt, “The statistic is that about 80 percent of dogs and about 70 percent of cats have some form of dental disease by age 3.”

Hunt is a dental and oral surgeon technician at UTCVM, and took x-rays of Isabella, performed biopsy on the mass, and later cleaned her teeth. She encourages owners to brush their pets’ teeth and watch for things like loss of appetite and bad breath. Proper nutrition is also important for a healthy mouth.

“It used to be a thing saying you need to feed them dry food because canned food can lead to dental disease. That’s kind of more of a myth we’ve learned over time. Now dry food is nice because they do get that crunchy texture and mechanical,” Hunt adds. “So, what can happen is just their teeth can get loose and their gums recede, same thing as like with humans were we can get bad teeth, and then they can get loose and get bacteria and infection; so then they need to be extracted.”

Unfortunately that was the case with Isabella, who later had three teeth pulled, but her problems were caught early and her future is encouraging.

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