SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

February 8, 2013

Vet Connection: Are you checking — and brushing — your pet’s teeth?

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Twenty years ago nobody was brushing their pets’ teeth. Today each pet’s family is taught to brush teeth. Brushing seven days a week is the gold standard of dental care. Veterinarians now examine your pets’ teeth and make specific recommendations for dental care to prevent the periodontal disease and abscesses from ever setting in.

If you brush your pet’s teeth daily it is possible that your pet will only rarely need a dental cleaning under anesthesia and may never need to have a surgical procedure to extract a diseased tooth. Just lift your pet’s lip to check for the brown calculus, smell for the bad breath and look for the inflamed tell-tale red gums of gum disease.

If you do recognize the signs of dental disease and want it treated be aware that “no-anesthesia” pet dentals may sound appealing and inexpensive, but involve many risks and leaves most pets to suffer in silence. The procedure is often performed by unlicensed and untrained individuals who only scrape tartar from the outside of the few visible teeth while your pet is awake (assuming your pet will hold still).

The process has no medical benefit whatsoever. This procedure does not remove tartar from the inside of pets’ teeth and, more importantly cannot remove tartar from below the gum line. Because they appear to be clean, pet owners believe their pets’ teeth are healthy but underlying disease goes undetected and untreated, resulting in tremendous pain, tooth loss and systemic disease.

So, to ensure your pet’s health and comfort, lift your pet’s lip and look at the teeth. Then call your veterinarian for a complete dental exam and treatment. Providing this crucial care for your pet will be excellent insurance against the complications and pain associated with untreated dental disease.

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