Dental care is not cheap, for people and pets alike. I think we can all agree on that. For our pets, a large portion of that cost is due to the fact that animals don't tolerate proper dental cleanings while awake. Nonetheless, proper dental care is important for many reasons, primarily because it can affect the well-being of an animal in many ways that extend beyond oral health.
In this blog post, I'll cover why oral health is so important, and how it extends far beyond just having clean teeth. For home care tips and suggestions, check out our previous blog post here
'Pet Dental Home Care - Saving you $$: Pet Dental Awareness Month Part 1'
Oral health is much more than clean teeth.
When we do a dental on an animal, the main goal is to clean the teeth, and treat any oral pathology while we are there. Teeth frequently need to be extracted due to a tooth abscess, a resorptive lesion, a fractured tooth or other painful condition. Bringing the mouth back to a more healthy state reduces pain and infection in the mouth as well as reducing the risk of other systemic diseases. There are also numerous other benefits outside of just treating the mouth.
Having dirty or infected teeth and gingivitis undoubtedly causes oral discomfort. Even with low grade infections, there is some bacteria which are showered into the blood stream every time the gums are irritated. Every animal has an immune system that is meant to deal with small amounts of bacteria and does quite a good job of such, but the worse the teeth and gums, the more bacteria there is to deal with on an ongoing basis and the higher the risk. This is known to result in a higher risk of post-surgical infections should your pet require surgery, elevated liver and kidney enzymes, and has the potential to result in pyelonephritis or endocarditis (bacterial infections in the kidneys, heart, liver, or other organs as well) which can be tricky to diagnose and treat.
It is not uncommon for an animal to feel and act much better following having a dental completed. Anyone who has had a toothache knows that the discomfort can affect your day to day activity. Systemic diseases as a direct result of dental pathology are not uncommon, and are often the unseen manifestation of dental issues. It's a great habit to have a peek in your pet’s mouth every now and again to see how things look. If you have any questions about the benefits and risks of a dental, don't hesitate to ask your vet about it! It's just one part of keeping our pets happy and healthy.