Monday-Friday  8am-5pm

Saturday  8am-12 noon

Dal Paso Animal Hospital

          ‚Äč575-397-2286

                                            1830 N Dal Paso Street, Hobbs NM 88240

Cat Resporptive lesions

Cat Resporptive lesions

Dog Stage 4 Periodontal Disease

Monday-Friday  8am-5pm

Saturday  8am-12 noon

         Dental disease is the most overlooked medical threat to the comfort, health, and well being of our pets today.  Few if any pets show signs and more importantly their owners are totally unaware of their pets disease until it is often severe!  More than 85% of dogs and cats over age 4 have some degree of periodontal disease.  This leads to pain, infection, and extensive tooth and bone loss.  The infection can spread to the heart, liver or kidneys and result in severe illness and even death.  As such, dental oral exams and cleaning procedures have become a critical component of our preventive health care assessment.  

         Are dental problems the same in people and pets?  No!!  The most common problem in people is tooth decay which results in cavities.  And we all know what those are. 

         Less than 5% of dogs develop cavities!!  Instead they develop periodontal disease.  This is a term used to describe infection and inflammation of the gums surrounding the tooth and is much more painful!  Diseased gums will erode away and expose the tooth root which rots and must be extracted.  If you have ever had a root canal then you know how painful this is!  If left untreated the infection will spread deep into the bone and to neighboring teeth.  The picture to the right is a stage 4 infection in a dog.  Those teeth need to be extracted and Infections such as this may have already spread via the blood to internal organs.  Fortunately with proper wellness care these infections can be prevented. 

        Cats also rarely get cavities.  Instead they suffer a painful form of tooth resorption called feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions.  Typically they begin at the cervical line where gum meets tooth.  The resorption process is progressive and erodes through the enamel and dentin into the pulp chamber resulting in severe pain.  The outer enamel and dentin is replaced with a hard boney like tissue that may look like a lump along the gum-line.  This is not tooth and not gum and VERY painful if touched!!  The picture to the right shows this on a canine tooth.  Unfortunately for cats the only treatment for a tooth undergoing resorption is extraction.  The tooth simply can not be saved.   But by extracting the tooth early in the course of disease we can hopefully prevent the infection from spreading to neighboring teeth.  If left untreated the inflammation and infection WILL spread and can lead to a condition called stomatitis where the only palliative treatment is to extract all of the cats teeth.  It is a horrible outcome for them but the only way to relieve their pain and control their infection.  Sometimes even this may not work and we are faced with euthanasia to relieve suffering.  Owners are usually completely unaware how painful their cats are from this condition because there is no visible evidence of pain unless and until the lesion is actually touched.  Sometimes cats may drool or bleed from the gums, have difficulty chewing or swallowing, miss meals, paw at the mouth, or vomit.  Bad breath is a hallmark of this condition in cats.  Remember bad breath = infection in both dogs and cats. 

       A word about pain.  Pain is a difficult thing for owners to appreciate in their cats and dogs.  Animals have evolved to conceal outward signs of pain and disease.  This is a survival mechanism of theirs, an evolutionary trait designed to trick their predators from *sensing* their weakness and being singled out for prey.  Its live or die for them!  So they hide their pain and they hide it well.  Can you imagine having to live with every cavity or impacted molar you ever had?  The pain would be unbearable to us!  Only when a veterinarian performs a thorough dental exam can we identify and appreciate our pets pain.