February is National Pet Dental Health Month. This is a month that is devoted to education about oral health issues in our pets. Many of you might be wondering why it is so important to keep your pet's mouth clean and healthy. I would like to take a moment to explain why a dental cleaning and full oral exam is more than just a means to improve bad breath and make those pearly whites shiny.
Problems in a dog or cat's mouth can literally affect their whole well-being. Whether it is an abscess around a tooth root or a tumor in the back of the mouth, many oral problems can easily go undiagnosed unless a pet is under anesthesia for a thorough dental cleaning and exam. We are often surprised when we anesthetize a pet for a seemingly "routine dental cleaning", only to find a possible tumor or a fractured tooth that has become infected. Animals are not often good at showing us pain or discomfort when it comes to problems in the mouth. It is in their inherent nature "hide" these signs. What we know is true, however, is that there have been many cases where problems were found and corrected, and the dog or cat acts much different afterwards. It is not unusual to hear an owner report that they didn't realize how bad their pet felt before, until they saw how much "better", "perkier", "interactive", they acted after the procedure.
Please consider scheduling a dental cleaning and exam today. It is our hope that it all goes routinely, and no additional problems are found. On the other hand, the sooner issues are addressed and treated, if they are there, the better off your furry family member will be in the long run.