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February 8, 2013

Paw Prints: Tooth tips that will make Fido smile

(Continued)

4. Do only dogs have canine teeth?

Canine teeth are fang teeth. Dogs, cats and other mammals have these teeth. Even people have canine teeth.

Canine teeth are incredibly long. We see about one-third of the whole tooth. The root is much longer, deep in the jaw. If your pet ever needs his canine tooth extracted, it’s not a simple “pull and pluck” procedure. This needs to be done properly so root fragments don’t remain.

5. Is periodontal disease common in pets?

Absolutely. Almost 80 percent of cats and dogs have periodontal disease by age 3. It causes the same problems in pets as it does in people — painful mouth, bad breath, loose teeth and systemic infections.

6. Can pets’ teeth be brushed?

Indeed, they can. Daily brushing is ideal. Ask your veterinary team to teach you how to do so. Be sure to use toothpaste made for pets. It comes in yummy flavors such as seafood, poultry and beef.

7. Do pets need regular dental check-ups?

Pets have teeth, too. And they need those teeth checked regularly, just like people do. Professional pet dental care involves cleaning, polishing, fluoride application, dental X-rays and an oral exam by a dental-trained veterinarian. This allows painful teeth, mouth infections and oral tumors to be identified and addressed.

8. Do pets get cavities?

Cavities are rare in pets. However, other painful tooth conditions are common. Cats are susceptible to resorptive lesions. First enamel wears away, and eventually the living pulp nerve tissue is exposed. This is excruciatingly painful. Resorptive lesions occur in about 50 percent of cats. Dogs can have bad habits, such as chewing on bones, which cause tooth fractures. Broken teeth are painful and can become infected.

9. My pet is eating, so how can his mouth be in pain?

Cats and dogs have a nervous system like ours. They feel pain like we do.

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