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Vickie Haywood, Dog Sports Editor and SAAB Member


Dental health is so important in humans and pets. As a former certified Dental Assistant and Image Technician, I know that many tooth problems can stem from poor dental health.


My 37-year old son has suffered with migraine headaches for 10 years. He has had many doctor appointments over the years looking for answers. Recently, he went from 6 to 8 migraines a month and decided to try again to find a cause. He went back to the ENT who scoped his sinuses again and found nothing remarkable. The doctor ordered another CT scan.


This CT scan shows an impacted wisdom tooth in the sinus cavity AND a mucoid cyst measured at the green line. Then discovered supernumeray wisdom tooth!


The newest CT scan showed an impacted wisdom tooth in the sinus cavity AND a mucoid cyst measured at the green line. No other x-rays, taken over the years, had shown this before. Also note that the above CT doesn't show the second surprise, not only to us but to the surgeon, when another x-ray was ordered that showed a supernumerary wisdom tooth (2 teeth not 1! As seen above). It was no wonder my son had migraines all these years. In his case, not because of poor upkeep but because even imaging can be deceiving and yes, your pet can suffer from double teeth as well...


Other problems that can be caused by poor dental health include heart disease, kidney disease, periodontal disease, even bad bite (malocclusions) and damaged teeth from inappropriate chewing.


Many pet owners do not take dental health seriously and too many do not seek dental cleanings. As a groomer of over 50 years, I have sure seen my share of really disgusting dog mouths stemming from lack of care. NO, dental cleanings are not cheap! Neither is having extractions or repairs done! But you add years to your pet’s life by paying attention to their dental health!


There is plenty of controversy surrounding feeding certain diets like chewing raw meaty bones or using different products that may or may not help. There is plenty of talk about sedation vs. non-sedated dentals (non-sedated means you cannot use ultrasonic cleaning under the gum line) and good luck getting a radiograph of a non-sedated pet!!


Each state has their own rules and qualifications on who can do what for dental cleanings.


I am NOT going to start a WAR discussing which food/ bones, teeth brushing etc… are best, this is a personal choice needing research on your part, just as selecting a regular vet or a vet specialist requires research and cost comparison!


Bottom line is; your pet cannot tell you if his mouth hurts. You may not even know your dog is suffering horrible pain from a cracked tooth or abscess. Without a dental x-ray you can only see the surface and the vast majority of Veterinarians do not have the equipment to take x-rays of the mouth, much less repair teeth. A dental cleaning is where you begin to evaluate the pet’s dental health!


We dog show folks train our dogs to allow ring exams and pay attention to dirty teeth, how many pet owners can actually look at their pet’s teeth? For 35 years I have taught how to give dental exams in my dog training classes and taught pet owners to teach their pets to accept mouth handling as well as full body exams.


photos show ideal canine dentition, no crooked teeth, puppy teeth replaced by perfectly aligned adult teeth


Brushing teeth is only as good as doing it every day just like brushing your own teeth along with regular dental check-ups! Again, as a former dental assistant, I taught new mothers how to clean their infant’s new erupting teeth by using a 2” x 2” gauze pad, this works well for pets also. But, once tartar is there, it is very difficult to remove without an ultrasonic device or dental tools that require some knowledge to use properly.


Veterinary medicine has come a VERY long way to include more availability of veterinary dentists, I believe the benefits of dental care outweighs the danger of IV sedation and cost. When we take on the responsibility of pet ownership, it includes grooming and vet care!


We no longer live in a world where neglect is tolerable... We humans must advocate for our pets by research and education! Veterinary Dentists {Ref #1} are diplomats in their specialty!


Reference Information: {1} American Veterinary Dental College map of Veterinary Dentists EST 1998 © 2103



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TEETH CLEANING VIDEOS: No-anesthesia cleaning included in 4 must-see videos as veterinarians perform dentals to prevent tooth loss and infection which can cause heart problems.


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