Dogs and cats do not have the same amount of teeth! Dogs start out with 28 deciduous (baby) teeth and cats start with 26 deciduous teeth. Both dogs and cats will lose their baby teeth by six months of age. Replacing these teeth will be their permanent adult teeth, 42 in the dog and 30 in the cat. It is possible that some of these baby teeth won’t fall out on their own. This could cause future dental problems for your pet such as, gingival irritation, malocclusion problems or an increased tartar formation.
The first sign of a dental problem is usually bad breath! If you are finding your pet has an increased odor coming from his/her mouth it may be a good idea to come in and get it checked out! Dental disease and infection in the mouth if not treated could cause other problems for your pet if the infections seeds to other parts of the body. The earlier you start preventative dental care, the better! Brushing your dog or cats teeth at a young age helps train them to tolerate it for future care. Just like humans, brushing your pets teeth will help prevent gum disease and excessive tartar build up.
Annual dental cleanings will also help keep gum disease at bay. You may wonder what exactly is involved in the dental cleaning your pet receives. Well, it is very similar to a visit at your own dentist! First off, the Veterinarian will recommend some pre-anesthetic blood work just to make sure the liver, kidneys and blood counts are all within normal ranges and it is safe for your pet to go under anesthesia. The cleaning itself as mentioned above, is very similar to a visit at the dentist. We remove tartar, check for cavities, gingival pockets, see if there are any loose/fractured teeth that need to be removed, and finally polish! One of the most important things that we do are full mouth dental radiographs. These allow us to see what is going on below the gum line.
Your pet could have missing teeth and with the help of dental radiology the Veterinarian could see if there is a root that would need to be removed to avoid future dental problems. Along with aiding the technicians and veterinarian in making sure all the roots have been removed, dental x-rays could show you that a tooth with a healthy looking crown will actually need to be removed due to many reasons such as, root absorption, bone loss, or even a fracture. Even though some teeth don’t need to be radiographed to show they need to be removed it is nice to be able to look at the bone around it and make sure there isn’t anything else going on.
As you can see there are lots of reasons why dental cleanings are important for your pets health. Ask your Veterinarian at your pets next visit if they think he/she could benefit from scheduling one!