If you see any of these clinical signs, take your pet to your veterinarian for a complete oral examination. Your veterinarian may need to sedate or anesthetize your pet, in order to complete the examination.. Dental radiographs (X-rays), not “skull films” (a radiograph of the entire head) may be necessary in order to make a proper diagnosis. Intra-oral radiographs are essential for deciding what’s going on and what needs to done. If your veterinarian is unable to take dental radiographs, is unsure of a diagnosis, or if the treatment is beyond the clinic’s level of dental experience, ask for a referral to a veterinarian who has an advanced certification in dentistry. (See American Veterinary Dental College or Academy of Veterinary Dentistry).
Preventive care involves brushing and daily examination of your pet’s mouth. Brushing needs to be done at least 3 to 4 times a week, if you want to make a difference in your pet’s oral health. Plus, by looking in your pet’s mouth while you are brushing, you will be more aware of any oral abnormalities (oral masses, bad breath, missing teeth) or the increased redness of the gums that indicates periodontal disease and the need for a trip to the “Animal Dentist.”
By working with your primary-care veterinarian and a dental specialist, you are sure to increase your companion’s quality of life by providing proper and timely dental and oral healthcare.