(PhysOrg.com) -- "Dental disease is a serious problem in pets," said Dr. Brenda Mulherin, community practice veterinarian at the Dr. W. Eugene and Linda Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center. "Signs of dental abnormalities can begin from birth with malalignment of the jaws," Dr. Mulherin said. "Young animals commonly retain their deciduous (baby) teeth and both young and adult animals can develop periodontal (gum) disease as early as six to eight months of age."
The most common type of dental illness is periodontal (gum) disease. Dr. Mulherin says that dental disease can be easily prevented. She advises pet owners to brush their pets teeth daily with a toothpaste designed for pets, not humans.
"Dental cleanings are another way that pet owners can be proactive," Dr. Mulherin said. "In the long-run periodic dental cleanings can save owners the expense of costly problems in the future as well as save their pets' teeth from being extracted."
Although it might be a bit daunting to brush your pet's teeth for the first time, Dr. Mulherin says many pets enjoy the taste of the pet toothpaste and the massaging of the gums by the brush. She advises owners to start brushing when the pet is young but encourages owners of older pets to brush their pets' teeth, as well.
Since joining the veterinary staff at the Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center (VMC) last month, Dr. Mulherin has performed numerous dental cleanings and procedures. "We commonly perform routine cleanings and extractions." Dr. Mulherin will soon be trained in performing root canals and other endodontic procedures. She has already taken several courses concentrating in small animal veterinary dentistry.
Dr. Mulherin is a 2002 graduate of Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. Previously, she was a small animal practitioner in the Des Moines area. She has given client presentations on pet care and the veterinary profession.
In addition to caring for pets at the Lloyd VMC, Dr. Mulherin teaches fourth- and third-year students in general practice.
Provided by Iowa State University
Explore further: Scottish zoo: 'Bad news' for pregnant giant panda