Oral Health Exams
The terms periodontal disease or dental disease in pets used to describe gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (inflammation of the bone and other support structures around the tooth). According to a study by the American Veterinary Dental Association, more than 8 out of 10 of adult (older than 3 years) dogs and cats have some form of periodontal disease. It’s very important to keep your pet’s teeth clean and healthy, and a good way to start is regular dental examinations on your pet.
Regular oral exam
- Before performing a dental exam, your veterinarian ask if you have noticed bad breath, excessive drooling, or pawing at the mouth, which can indicate that your pet suffers from a dental issue.
- Pet’s head and neck (lymph-nodes) are palpated to check for signs of any abnormalities, such as swellings, lumps, pain, or enlarged lymph nodes.
- Veterinarian check up your pet’s teeth and gums for redness, bleeding, and inflammation or infection of the gums (called the gingivitis) can cause the gums to appear red or swollen and to bleed easily. Gingivitis can result from either accumulation of bacteria at the gum line or infection with certain viruses (such as feline leukemia virus and calicivirus). Gingivitis can be painful and can progress to periodontal disease, tooth abscesses, and tooth loss.
- During a dental exam, your veterinarian will examine your pet’s teeth for damage (such as cracks) and plaque and tartar. Plaque is the yellow, gummy substance that sticks to teeth; it eventually hardens to become dental tartar, that can be removed only by professional dental cleaning.
- Veterinarian will also look for lumps or growths that could be oral cancers. If any questionable lumps are seen, a biopsy may be recommended to determine if the growth is cancerous.
Comprehensive exam under anesthesia.
- The full oral exam under anesthesia may indicate other processes that are going on in pet’s mouth, it involves checking the periodontal pocket depth around the tooth. In healthy animals there is a small pocket present called the sulcus. It also includes an assessment of gum (gingival) recession, bone loss, mobility of the teeth and degree of gingivitis.
- Dental X-rays may be obtained during a dental examination. X-rays can help your veterinarian to determine the health of the roots of the teeth and to diagnose impactions (teeth that are wedged in and can’t move into a normal position), fractures, and tooth root abscesses.
If any of the parameters are abnormal then further periodontal procedures or other surgery may be recommended.