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Posted on 02-26-2014

What We Don’t See

Last month I wrote about dental disease in cats and dogs from a close-up “I’ve got my eyes on you” view, or  “What you see is what you get.” But truthfully, that is a huge oversimplification because the reality is that with dental disease in cats and dogs - and yes, in us bipeds too – what you don’t see is really what you get. The most serious dental disease lies out of sight, below the gum line, where bad things, like the wrong kind of bacteria, lurk, waiting for the right moment to foul up our pet’s health. And yes, their breath too, but that’s probably the least of the concerns.

Think about it this way. Remember the Titanic, and how that iceberg sank the Unsinkable, Mother-of-All ocean liners? Well, what took out the big liner was below the surface, not the 15% above water that Frederick Fleet sighted. (Frederick was the lookout on duty that fateful night, poor bloke. He survived, but lived the rest of his life in deep personal guilt because he didn’t die that night.) When we think about teeth and dental disease, the problem is really below the surface.

Reading the first couple paragraphs, you might feel that this is just a scare tactic, designed to make you feel guilty or neglectful for not regularly checking your companion’s teeth, and I can understand if you do. In fact, I would encourage you to be skeptical, but in a proactive way. “Wha..?” you say. “What’s this skeptical, proactive stuff he’s talking about?” The skeptical part is this: first look (and smell) for yourself. If the teeth look shiny-white and the gums are a uniformly healthy pink, with no redness or pulpy-looking tissue, everything’s good. And here’s the proactive part: leash up your canine companion or get your furry feline friend into a carrier and come visit us so our technicians can get your best bud on a good oral health program at home. There are several fairly simple things you can do at home to minimize the need for dental cleanings under anesthesia.

So how does the proactive thing work if things are not fresh and shiny-white, and the gum line is reddish and/or pulpy? Simple. Just proactively come on down for an Every-Day Oral Health Examination by one of our technicians and we will schedule a safe, thorough, feel-really-good-after dental cleaning (prophylaxis) under anesthesia, and then we’ll get your buddy started on a good home care program.

That’s it! That’s about all you need to do. What motivates all of us is the reward of seeing our patients come bouncing back to see us a week after their cleaning, because they’ve suffered silently with periodontal disease for so long that we think it’s normal. And the icing on the cake is when you, our clients and friends, tell us just how much better your companions clearly feel.

--Dr. Aubrey

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