February is National Pet Dental Health month. Dental disease is the most common disease in dogs. It affects 59 out of every 100 dogs seen by veterinarians. Since 2006 it has increased by 12%. The reason for the increase is not known. Dogs with dental disease may have difficulty chewing. They can lose their teeth. The biggest danger, however, is that they face a higher risk for other diseases because the bacteria that are responsible for dental disease can enter the bloodstream and infect the heart, kidneys or other organs. This is similar to what can happen in humans.
Smiles On Broadway, the Long Island Dental Practice of Dr. Steven Katz, serving the communities of Malverne, Lynbrook, Franklin Square, West Hempstead, Rockville Centre and Garden City, does not treat dogs, but we do consider ourselves a Family Dental Practice and therefore care about your pets because they are important members of your families.
The most common form of dental disease in dogs is Periodontal Disease. It is an ongoing inflammation of the gums that can cause bleeding and tenderness, just as it does in people. One of the reasons that our practice stressed Preventive Dentistry is that it has been shown that there is a strong relationship between periodontal disease and medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and low birth-weight babies. Interestingly, a Purdue University study found that dogs with periodontal disease had a higher risk of congestive heart failure and endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart valves.
In our patients, one of the first signs of periodontal disease is bad breat. Our incredibly gentle and thorough hygienists, Francine and Tina, are very experienced in helping our patients find solutions for Halitosis, or bad breath. In dogs, bad breath is also a sign of periodontal disease. In general you should take your dog to the veterinarian at least once a year. If your dog has dental disease, they may need to be checked every six months.
If you have a dog that has never or rarely had its teeth cleaned, you may want to schedule a professional cleaning at your veterinarian. The procedure is done under general anesthesia and is very similar to how it is done in our office. Whenever Dr. Katz takes his dogs to the veterinarian he spends time with his dogs Vet showing him all of his new “dental” equipment. One of the main differences in the procedure is that the dogs do not sit up to rinse periodically during the process. But then, again, we perform quite a bit of Sedation Dentistry in our office and our sedated patients do not sit up to rinse either.
As we celebrate Pet Dental Health Month it is important to review the steps that are necessary to be happy and healthy:
Work like a dog.
Think like a fox.
Play like a rabbit.
And see your veterinarian twice a year.