Periodontal disease is very sneaky. It can be obvious with gum recession, lots of calculus (tartar), red gums, halitosis and your pet may flinch away when you tough his/her face....or the teeth can look white and the gums seem to be quiet. Even veterinarians can miss dental disease because - well - the truth is nobody CANNOT see what is going on under the gum line and in the bone. Diagnosis requires 3 things:
1. Advanced knowledge - it is only in recent years that veterinarians are being taught dentistry in college. Ask your veterinarian how much education they have taken in this field. They will be happy to tell you.
2. Anesthetized patients - we are not working with humans, we are working with animals that do not understand what we need to do and do not understand what we are saying to them. Usually owners wait a long time before they look for help from their veterinarian. In humans we go in to see the dentist twice a year and we brush our teeth twice a day. Most of our pets do not do this. So veterinarians are usually dealing with serious oral disease.
3. Intraoral X-rays - without this technology disease in the bone is missed. Veterinarians who do dentistry need this technology so ask any veterinarian who works on your pet's teeth - do they have this.
Please do not let anyone tell you that these three important things are not essential.
Example 1 - Advanced Periodontal Disease
Your pet may sleep all day and because it is old everyone in the family thinks it is just old age. However maybe there is more going on. Check the ears - they can also cause head pain ...but do check the mouth. Be very gentle - talk to your pet so he or she knows you are going to do something. Do not get bitten.