Dental care in any pet is challenging. Not many of us check our dog's, cat's, rabbit's or other pet's teeth very often. Unlike us our pets don't do personal dental prevention. Playing ball or watching the birds are far more important to them. Even rabbit binking is a far more pleasurable endeavor than considering what foods they need to eat to keep their ever growing teeth in line with each other! That leaves their dental care to us as their caretakers.
Unfortunately, dental disease in our pets doesn't get any better as they age; being as vigilant as you can will hopefully prevent other silent diseases from occurring in your pet's body.
Here are some tips that will hopefully help you to monitor your pet's dental health and will also be easy for you to do as this is such a fun job!!
1. To check your pet's (s') teeth, lift up the lips to see the gums and teeth or pull back on the lips to see the back teeth.
2. Check for any nasal (nose) discharge or sneezing. This could indicate a root infection in a canine tooth.
3. Actually watch your pet chewing its food. Many animals come into us for wellness examinations and on one side of the mouth the teeth look good with healthy gums and very little tartar and the other side looks red and heavy with tartar.
4. Check your animal's toys to see if there is any blood or other odd looking substances on that toy.
5. Is there a change in the toy your pet plays with? Does your pet not want to eat hard food any more?
6. What breed is your pet? Is it likely this breed is genetically programmed to have bad teeth?
We have digital radiography to enhance our knowledge of checking your pet's mouth. We have purchased in 2012 specialized equipment to deal with our exotic patients who have very different dental problems than our canine, feline and avian or reptile friends. Their mouths are really, really small so our fiber-optic handpieces help visualize their problems and correct them with less trauma and therefore less pain.
Speaking of pain we feel it is imperative to medicate our friends for dental pain. This can be accomplished by using nerve blocks along with general anesthesia and post-dental medications.