who the first person was to use the term "no brainer". I don't
know. I even "Ask Jeeves" on the internet and they didn't
know. If you are not familiar with the term, it refers to something
that is so easy to comprehend that it does not take any brain capacity to
calculate an answer. The phrase is one of those wonderful
contemporary culture extracts that has found its way into general usage in
When you think about it, there really are some things in life that are
"no-brainers". In the veterinary profession for example,
the need for your pet to undergo a routing dental procedure is as close to
being a no-brainer as any I can imagine. Oral disease is so broad
(approximately 80% of all dogs and 70% of all cats) and
effects are so potentially grave that , if you value your pet's well
being, having a routine dental procedure performed on your pet is really a
no-brainer! Left untreated, oral disease can systematically affect the
animal's heart, liver, and kidneys in addition to making their life
miserable from the oral pain they suffer. Additionally, pets with
advanced oral disease often suffer from nutritional problems because it is
usually very painful for them to eat.
February is National Pet Dental Health Month and we have devoted this
issue of our newsletter to that topic so that you have the facts necessary
to make a decision about your pet's dental health. I think that once
you read this information, the maintenance of your pet's dental
health will become a real "no-brainer"!
Your pet requires
professional dental care - just like you! In order to provide the proper
care for your pet, the American Veterinary Dental Society recommends that
pet owners follow these three basic steps:
1. Take your pet to the
veterinarian for a dental exam & cleaning. Our trained staff can
examine your pet's mouth to determine the magnitude of dental work that
must be done. For most pets a simple cleaning is all that is
required. We will first sedate your pet so that he or she does not
feel a thing. Depending on your pet's age and physical condition,
the doctor may order blood analysis and other diagnostic tests to evaluate
your pet's vital organs for coexisting diseases before proceeding with
general anesthesia. Then, using many of the same sort of instruments
your family dentist uses, we will begin polishing your pet's teeth to
remove any harmful plaque and tartar.
2. Begin a dental care
program at home. The main thing a pet owner can do to safeguard a
pet's dental health is to begin brushing the pet's teeth on a routine
basis. Some brushing suggestions are:
Begin your brushing
program at an early age.
Dipping your index
finger in beef stock for dogs or tuna water for cats and gently
rubbing your finger over your pet's mouth and teeth is a good way to
start. Keep your sessions short and stroke your pet to make it
Once you have accustomed your pet to the process introduce a
toothbrush designed for pets. (Our staff can recommend the correct
type.) Only use toothpaste only designed for use with pets as human
toothpaste can cause stomach upset in animals.
Small dogs and cats can be wrapped in a towel to restrain them
during the brushing process. Large dogs can be initially wrapped
in a blanket to restrain them. Be assured that once most pets
become accustomed to the brushing sessions, the need to restrain them
There are various methods of feeding your pet that will help combat
oral disease. Our staff will be happy to suggest items and diets
that are best suited for your pet.
3. Schedule regular veterinary checkups. Regular dental visits
are an important part of your personal dental health care. The
same is true for your pet. Routine checkups are essential for the
proper monitoring of your pet's health.
We encourage you to read all of the articles in this newsletter -
especially those pertaining to pet dental care. Once armed with
the facts, you'll agree that adhering to the pet dental care regimen
we've outlined above is a "no-brainer"!
Oral disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem for pets.
of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by age 3.
disease is a common problem in dogs especially in smaller breeds
because small dogs' teeth are often too large for their mouths,
forcing the teeth closer together.
can develop painful cervical line lesions (pinpoint holes at the base
of the gum line). Studies show that 28% of cats develop one of
these lesions during their lifetime
Oral disease begins with a buildup of bacteria in the pet's mouth.
combined with saliva and food debris between the tooth and gum, can
cause plaque formations to accumulate on the teeth. As bacteria
grow in the plaque and as calcium salts are deposited, plaque turns to
tartar is not removed from the teeth, pockets of pus may appear along
the gum line and further separate the teeth from the gum, which
allows for food and bacteria to accumulate.
proper treatment, this plaque and tartar buildup may cause periodontal
disease which affects the tissue and structure supporting the teeth.
Periodontitis is irreversible and may lead to other health problems.
the inflamed gums of gingivitis which can be treated and reversed with
thorough plaque removal and continued plaque control, periodontitis
can only be contained to prevent progression. The disease causes
red, swollen and tender gums, receding gums, bleeding, pain and bad
breath. If left untreated, periodontitis can lead to tooth loss.
Pet owners should look for warning signs of oral disease.
indications of oral disease include bad breath, a change in eating or
chewing habits, pawing at the face or mouth and depression.
you suspect that your pet is suffering from any of the above symptoms,
contact us immediately. When your pet is suffering, time is of the
Cervical Line Lesions are a common dental problem affecting approximately
60% of all cats. Many cats with gingivitis or loose teeth are
diagnosed with Cervical Line Lesions. These pinpoint holes (almost
like a cavity) develop in the teeth at the base of the gum line. The
lesions collect bacteria that can eventually lead to other ailments like
Unfortunately, the cause of Cervical Line Lesions is unknown.
Brushing the cat's teeth and routine dental procedures performed by the
veterinarian will prevent plaque and tartar deposits from forming.
In turn, this will reduce the likelihood of bacterial infections of
the gums with subsequent tooth loss.
Can pets get cavities?
A. Cavities in pets are
relatively rare because their diets are usually not high in decay
causing sugars. Cavities can be avoided by feeding your pet treats
free of sugar and designed specifically for pets.
Q. What causes a dog to break
A. Dogs often break teeth
when they chew on items that are just too hard such as a bone or a cow
hoof. Rawhide or other chew toys that soften as the dog chews are a
What is causing a big swollen bump on my cat's gum?
A. Isolated swelling on the gum
above one tooth could indicate severe possible problems such as a cervical
line lesion or an abscessed tooth.
Q. does it matter whether my pet
eats hard or soft food?
A. Studies show that hard
kibbles are slightly better at keeping plaque from accumulating on the
teeth. You may have heart that there are special foods proven to
help reduce plaque and tartar. If you think your pet needs a special
food, discuss this issue with a member of our staff.
Many pet owners mistakenly
think that bad breath is just a part of being a dog or a cat.
Nothing is further from the truth! Bad breath in pets can sometimes
indicate the presence of a serious illness but it is most often caused by
bacteria that form when plaque and tartar are not removed from the
teeth. This can cause gum infection or periodontal disease.
If your pet has bad
breath, look at the pet's upper teeth by gently pulling back its
lips. Examine the upper canines (the sharp, pointed teeth in
the front corners) and the upper-back molars. If the gums
above the teeth are red and the teeth are covered with brownish plaque,
your pet is probably suffering from periodontal disease.
If this sounds like your
pet, follow the procedures we have outlined on page 2 of this newsletter.
Give us a call today for a dental appointment for your pet. You will
be glad you did.