A number of years ago, after a night of excruciating mouth pain, I found myself stretched out in a dentist’s chair, feeling a mix of both sedation (thankfully) and shock as the dentist studied my x-rays and began rattling off a laundry list of procedures I’d ultimately require.
Not one to beat around the bush, I immediately inquired about costs, and after he begrudgingly began providing prices, I started crunching the numbers. The tally came to almost $20,000. Even in my sedated state, I was close to tears.
Dental health is something that many of us don’t think about until we are on the cusp of a crisis. For our pets, it can be even easier to overlook because our dogs and cats rarely alert us to problems until they have reached a critical point. If our pets aren’t acting like something is wrong, we generally don’t assume that anything is. But the old adage that “if something isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” is a terrible philosophy when it comes to the dental health of our four-legged loved ones. The longer problems go undetected and untreated, the more difficult and costly they ultimately become.
Just like people, dogs and cats require regular maintenance of their teeth and gums. Brushing your pet’s teeth daily, or at least three to four times a week helps to reduce plaque, which is a source of bacteria and can cause gum disease.
Approximately 80% of dogs and cats have dental disease by the age of three. This leads to periodontal disease if left untreated. The long term consequences of periodontal disease include bone erosion, tooth loss, abscess and pain. Bacteria in the tartar and plaque can also affect your pet’s general health, causing serious damage to the heart and other internal organs.
Signs of dental disease include halitosis (bad breath), swelling of the face, excessive drooling, loss of appetite, visibly loose teeth and inflamed gums. Bear in mind that while your pet may exhibit some of these symptoms, they also may not. Furthermore, by the time they do display these symptoms, they may require a significant amount of work.
We can’t possibly pre-empt every condition that may await our two and four-legged loved ones but we CAN take precautions, and, preventative measures can go a long way. Bringing your pet in for an annual dental checkup can keep plaque and bacteria at bay, and help to stave off costly procedures and serious illnesses down the road. Trust me when I say, it’s better to be safe than sorry….
Melissa Treuman is Director of Brand Communications, Bideawee. During the month of March, The Animal Hospitals at Bideawee are offering $50 off any dental procedure. To make an appointment, call 866-262-8133.