It’s February again! And that means it’s pet dental health month. Dental health is more than a nice smile, clean teeth and good breath. Dentists often say that the mouth can offer insights into the rest of the body, and in many ways we agree. The benefits of good oral health extend far beyond the mouth, so we thought we’d share a few reasons to stay on top of your pet’s oral health.
Healthy mouth – The most direct benefits of staying on top of oral hygiene include fresh breath, and being pain and infection-free (from gingivitis and tooth infections/abscesses). Tooth abscesses can result in the breakdown of the jaw bones and spread into the surrounding tissues. This can result in jaw fractures, nasal discharge, and facial swelling.
Reduced risk of other diseases – Chronic infection and inflammation in the mouth can increase the risk of numerous other complications throughout the body. Here are some examples
Endocarditis (heart valve infection) – chronically having small amounts of bacteria in the bloodstream increases the risk that some bacteria latch on to a valve in the heart and cause an infection there, possibly leading to heart failure
Pyelonephritis or kidney damage (Kidney infection or damage) – the kidneys are great at filtering the bloodstream, and is commonplace for bacteria to collect and cause problems. This can result in chronic bladder infections, and cause kidney failure over time.
Hepatitis (liver inflammation/damage) – it is common to see elevated liver enzymes on bloodwork with advanced dental disease. The bacteria that are released into the bloodstream from the mouth are most frequently caught by the liver and dealt with by the immune system, thereby resulting in low-grade chronic inflammation in the liver. In rare instances, abscesses may form and result in more complex and serious issues.
This isn’t meant to be a giant scare tactic, but rather to explain why we put so much value on the oral health of our pets. In addition to routine veterinary dental care, there are many things that can be done at home regularly to help maintain a clean and healthy mouth. Give us a ring to for more info on how we can keep your pet’s chompers in good shape!