By Sheila Wolf, RDH -
Fido may be your best friend, but when he slobbers your face with his kisses, do you notice his horrible doggie breath and pull away? It might be a sign of something much more serious than just malodor. It might even be life-threatening.
Veterinarians have been much more aware of the connection between periodontal diseases (chronic gum infections) and heart problems than most medical doctors, and seem to have been talking about it far longer. It has just been since the Surgeon General published his report, "Oral Health in America
" in May 2000, that the medical profession began to take notice. Infections in your pet's mouth can travel into their circulatory system, just like in humans, and set up infections in other organs of their bodies. That can cause serious whole-body problems. Having a gum infection can mean your pet is at higher risk for heart attacks, stroke, diabetic complications, respiratory problems, and many other life-threatening illnesses. It is no different from the threat chronic infections pose for us humans. For more info on gum disease, its transmission, and its relationship to general health visit www.mamagums.com
You should regularly check your pet for:
Bad, stale breath
Missing, loose, or broken teeth
Bleeding or swollen gums - check especially along the gum line
Persistent yellowish or brown teeth which may be accumulations of plaque and tartar
Any unusual growths receding gums
- Any signs of pus or drainage
If your pet is avoiding his toys or bones, not eating well, or won't drink water that is too cold, you can suspect a problem in his mouth.
Here are ways to examine your pet for mouth problems:
- Take an intimate moment with your beloved animal. Make sure you won't be disturbed by noise or distractions. Be gentle and take your time.
- To look at the left side molars: Place index finger of left hand on top of muzzle and place left thumb below bottom jaw to prevent your pet from opening their jaw.
- Lift their lips open with right index finger and thumb.
- Visually examine the gum area around the back molars for plaque, tartar, inflammation, and receding gums.
- To check for loose teeth, gently press each tooth (if your pet allows it) If he has bad breath, his gums may be red and inflamed. Be very gentle.
- To check the front teeth, separate upper and lower lips with thumbs & index finger, looking for redness (inflammation or infections) at the gum area at the base of the teeth.
- Repeat same steps on the other side.
- Report areas of tenderness to his Vet.
Don't let your dog (or kitty) suffer unnecessarily. Although bad breath may not be the same social stigma that it is for us, they still could fall prey to the risks of overall health problems and live a shorter life. Mouth bacteria are transmissible from person to person, and even from Fido to you. Be sure you and your pet are both healthy so you don't pass your germs to each other.
Sheila Wolf, RDH, (Mama Gums) has been a registered dental hygienist since 1971. She is currently enjoying writing, speaking, and consulting on various oral health issues. She has authored two award-winning books, "Pregnancy and Oral Health" and "Your Mouth Could Be Killing You." Both are available on her website, http://www.mamagums.com/about_book.html, through Amazon, and at finer bookstores everywhere. Sheila also works with people privately as an oral wellness coach and does microscopic screenings as part of her educational process. You may reach Sheila through her website, http://www.mamagums.com/ or in San Diego at 866-MAMA-GUMs. She currently is not seeing family pets. J
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