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Do my pets really need dentals?

Q: Should my cats and dogs have their teeth cleaned?

A: Cats and dogs should have their teeth examined at the time of their annual physical examination. This usually coincides with their annual vaccinations. If not, be sure to make a special trip to your veterinarian at least once a year to properly maintain their health. Upon examination, your vet will let you know what is necessary. Some pets never need dental work, while others need frequent cleaning and oral surgery. On the average, small dogs and older cats need full dental cleaning annually, with younger cats and larger dogs every two to four years. In addition to hereditary factors, others such as age, breed, and soft vs hard food all play a role in oral health. If you brush your pet's teeth and rinse regularly with oral disinfectant mouth wash you can dramatically reduce dental problems. Not all dental cleanings are the same, so you should shop around to find the best care for your pets. Only licensed veterinarians can perform thorough dental cleaning. Groomers and hygienists can brush and wipe your pets teeth, but they cannot perform dentistry. A complete dental should include ultrasonic cavitron tartar removal, fluoride treatment, gingival disinfection, antibiotics, enamel repair, and polishing.


Older hamster lost teeth

Q: My hamster is two years of age. She may have lost her bottom teeth. She still eats but can this affect her?

A: Hamsters usually only live two to three years, so yours is a senior. The lower teeth have either fallen out or are heavily worn. Monitor her food intake and droppings to insure she continues to eat. You may need to feed her shelled seeds and softer foods if her missing teeth become a problem.


Tell me about my puppy's temporary and permanent teeth

Q: Our Siberian Husky-Red Heeler mix is just five months old. She lost two of her puppy teeth a few days ago and now a third which was a K9 on the lower jaw. How many teeth will she loose? The K9 was a surprise; I didn't realize that she'd loose them too.

A: Dogs have 28 deciduous (temporary) teeth and 42 permanent teeth. Puppies have no teeth at birth, and grow deciduous teeth beginning their second week of life. At three months of age, the deciduous teeth begin to be replaced by the permanent teeth. The replacement process begins with the incisors, and moves backwards through the canines, premolars and finally the molars. The turnover process is usually complete by the time the dog is eight months old, with none of the original 28 deciduous teeth remaining. Most deciduous teeth are swallowed with food and never seen by the pet owner. Occasionally, a deciduous tooth is merely pushed to the side and retained next to the permanent tooth. Retained deciduous teeth can be removed by a veterinarian.

The incisors turn over from deciduous to permanent from two to four months of age. The canines usually convert around six months of age. The premolars and molars follow in that order, with the last permanent molar erupting around eight months of age.

The exact schedule does vary from breed to breed.

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