Dental Health

My blog this month is to focus on your pet’s oral health, all because of my own recent oral health problem.  You see, 2 months ago, I began feeling, terrible pain in my lower jaw.  I had no idea what it was, so I did what most of us do now a day, I googled my symptoms.  A large list of possibilities popped up on the net and TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain seemed to be the most likely ailment.  The pain became so intense that I was on 400 mg Ibuprofen every 6 hours just to keep the pain manageable.

The next day I called a chiropractor booked an appointment the next day.  After work on my drive home, I started to feel this strange sensation of pressure in my jaw and it almost felt like my back tooth was erupting out of my jaw.  Then, later that night at dinner, I bit into a homemade pita sandwich and nearly went through the roof with pain.  I couldn’t chew my sandwich, it was way too painful to eat.  It was slowly, dawning on me that my pain was not from TMJ but an abscessed tooth.  My first call the next morning was to my dentist, booked an emergency appointment for the next day and my second call was to cancel my chiropractor appointment. Self-diagnosing off the internet wasn’t such a good idea after all.

So, I’m telling my story because so many pet owners just don’t realize the pain that their cats and dogs suffer when they have periodontal disease, gingivitis, tooth abscess with infection.  I often hear owners say “Oh he’s not in any pain, I’d know if he was in pain.” But the owners have just explained to me, that Lucky no longer wants to eat his kibble, so they try to feed him canned food now.  I personally know why he won’t eat his kibble anymore… because it is too painful to chew the kibble!

I really cannot stress enough, that if your dog’s mouth smells and looks bad, they are in pain.  Animals are so stoic, they hide their pain well, maybe due to their survival instincts. In the animal kingdom, if you look like you’re in pain, this could mean your easy prey.

I know there are all kinds of chews, kibble and water additives to help with your dog’s oral health, and this is great to do right from a puppy, but if they already have a periodontal disease it’s too late for these products.

You see, periodontal disease begins when bacteria in the mouth form a substance called plaque that sticks to the surface of the teeth.  Minerals in the saliva harden the plaque into dental tartar, which builds up on the teeth.

Unfortunately, professional dental cleaning and therapy often come too late to prevent extensive disease or to save teeth. As a result, periodontal disease is usually under-treated, and may cause multiple problems in the mouth and may be associated with damage to internal organs in some patients as they age.

So please be proactive in your pet’s dental health to keep them healthy and happy for as long as you can.

Written by Jennifer Barr