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Hidden Horrors: Dog and Cat Dental Dilemnas

February 1, 2010

canine 109 tooth root abscess

Half of this tooth is sitting in an abscess. Can you tell which half?

February is National Pet Dental Health Month in the U.S.

Doc Truli declares Earth Pet Dental Health Month. Everyone is welcome to help their pet feel better, look younger, and live longer! The Doc will devote a series of posts all month long just to pet dental health.

Proper dental care adds 2-4 healthy years to a pet’s expected lifespan. And old-age diseases like arthritis delay for 2-4 years, too.

Would you like your Chihuahua to live to be 18, instead of 14? Of course you would!

Unbelievable Disease Hides in the Mouths of (All*) Pets

  • *If you worry your pet may need dental care.
  • *If you smell your pet’s breath every time he or she licks your face (or worse, when they walk in the room.)
  • *If your veterinarian never specifically checks the teeth.
  • *If your pet is more than two years old and you do not brush their teeth every day.
  • *If your pet is a baby and the veterinarian has not checked for mis-aligned teeth or extra teeth.

Then, you need to take your pet for a dental check-up!

“More than 75% of pets 2 years of age and older have periodontal disease. The most basic, Grade 1 of 4 disease is red, sore gums, called gingivitis. Left untreated, gingivitis, plaque, calculus, and periodontal disease shorten your pet’s life by up to 4 years!” explains Doc Truli.

Pet Dental Health Resources:

The American Veterinary Dental College has a comprehensive pet parent (they call you “owners,” we’ll have to forgive them) information site. Text heavy, dearth of pictures (dearth is the opposite of plethora.)

All Pet’s Dental, Dr. Jan Bellows’ site has fantastic pictures, and pretty detailed information. Mostly, I like the balanced, medium-thorough approach. Very good diagrams and tips for tooth brushing, too! Dr. Bellows is my favorite veterinary dentist, and I refer my complex dental work to him for care (like braces). Plus, he literally wrote most of the veterinary textbooks on the subject of pet dentistry. (Also great ferret page.)

Ferrets need dental care, too! Check out this thorough article with some nice pictures.

**Doc Truli will revisit that x-ray in a future post. Keep an eye out!

dog dental disease

Under the tartar, this root was just sitting outside the bone!

In the picture to the left, this dog came to Doc Truli for a routine “dental.” Her dad was sure she just needed the calculus “scraped off.” Well, once we started removing the tartar, we found this premolar actually half in and half out of the bone. Somehow, the back root of the tooth had worked its way out through the side of the bone. The gums were red and sore and bled easily when lightly touched.

Obviously, this tooth had to be fully extracted. (Click on the image to see lots of detail; Doc Truli had a nice camera that day!)

This little dog never stopped eating, or cried, or bit anyone, and was trusting and calm with the Doc. The whole time, this nasty tooth festered in her mouth. This case is a little spectacular, but this severity of hidden periodontal disease, unfortunately, is commonplace in veterinary practice.

Until many, many people start brushing their pet’s teeth, veterinarians like Doc Truli will see disease like in this picture every day!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. July 9, 2010 4:35 pm

    I knew that good oral hygiene was important, but I did not realize that 2-4 years can be added to the life of a pet. That is great news. Thank you so much for the information. Hopefully, every pet owner out there will start and or continue to exercise proper dental care for their pet.

    Thank you.

    • July 9, 2010 10:39 pm

      Yes, 2-4 years of added healthy life in exchange for some tooth care! That’s like 20 years for you or me! Many, many people hesitate to authorize anesthesia for true deep dental cleaning and detailed diagnosis. This inaction allows horrible periodontal disease to eat years off of your pet’s life!
      -Doc Truli

  2. February 17, 2010 9:12 pm

    Dear friend,

    I found alot very helpful articles in here.

    Thanks for your sharing and keep posting.

    Moderator of

  3. Simon permalink
    February 9, 2010 5:29 am

    Here in the UK we have a similiar campaign to pet dental month called ‘PetSmile Month’, which our vet told us about. It has videos showing you how to brush dogs teeth at home which can reduce dental problems.


  1. Hidden Horrors: Pet Periodontal Problems « VirtuaVet | Health News
  2. Hidden Horrors: Pet Periodontal Problems « VirtuaVet | Health News
  3. Hidden Horrors: Pet Periodontal Problems « VirtuaVet | Health News

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