February is National Dental Month

Fairgrounds Animal Hospital is celebrating National Pet Dental Month by giving you a 10% discount for your pet’s dental cleaning. Call to make an appointment for your free dental consultation.


Some Things to Keep in Mind for National Pet Dental Month:
Senior Dental Care: Never Too Old For Good Dental Health

With individualized anesthesia protocols and appropriate monitoring, veterinary dental procedures are safer now than ever before. Now, all senior patients can enjoy the benefits of good dental care.

By Heidi Lobprise, DVM, DAVDC
VETERINARY MEDICINE

image02The prevalence of periodontal disease increases as age increases and as body weight decreases (large dogs vs. small dogs). Similar to other chronic processes, particularly ones with tissue loss (gingival and bone), this disease is likely to worsen without intervention until the final phase of periodontal disease – tooth loss. The confluence relationship of dental disease with diabetes and renal disease underscores the importance of addressing issues in senior animals before they cause more problems.

Dentistry and blood work can help support each other’s efforts: if a recent senior diagnostic screening has been performed, now would be a good time to get the patient’s dental work accomplished. If dental care is needed, now would be a good time to update the patient’s laboratory values, especially if the screening has been declined in the past. While not common, it is possible to pick up on underlying, occult disease when performing a patient’s preoperative screening.


As Patient’s Get Long in the Tooth

Periodontal disease has an increased incidence in senior animals, as they do any of the dental conditions that can increase over time, such as tooth resorption or stomatitis in cats. Extensive periodontal disease that has destroyed mandibular bone at the level of the first molar can lead to pathological fractures, sometimes bilaterally, that have insufficient osseous structure for stabilization. (Figure 1)

Figure 1: An intraoral radiograph showing a pathological fracture of the left mandible due to periodontal bone loss. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Heidi Lobprise)

Figure 1: An intraoral radiograph showing a pathological fracture of the left mandible due to periodontal bone loss. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Heidi Lobprise)

Senior cats may exhibit a thickening of the alveolar bone surrounding the canine teeth, especially the maxillary ones, with a concurrent super-eruption of the teeth, making them look longer than normal (Figure 2). This chronic ostetis or alveolitis may be minor, with periodontal management sufficient for treatment. If the tooth is mobile or the surrounding tissues are inflamed, extraction may be the best rout.

Figure 2: Thickened alveolar bone surrounding the canine teeth, with a concurrent super-eruption of the teeth. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Heidi Lobprise)

Figure 2: Thickened alveolar bone surrounding the canine teeth, with a concurrent super-eruption of the teeth. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Heidi Lobprise)

Oral tumors are also seen more frequently in senior patients, and early detection and identification of any masses can provide the only possibility for adequate treatment. In dogs, melanocytic tumors, fibrosarcomas and squamous cell carcinomas are some of the most frequent masses found, while the three forms of squamous cell carcinoma (gingival, lingual, tonsillar) are the most common masses found in cats.