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Dental Disease in Ferrets

December 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Dentistry, Ferrets

Maintaining good dental health is very important in the pet ferret. Lack of good oral hygiene leads to plaque and subsequent tartar, which can trap bacteria resulting in gingivitis (gum inflammation) and with time infection of the tooth roots and loss of teeth. Additionally, bacteria from an infected mouth may enter the bloodstream, leading to disease in other body organs such as the kidneys, heart and lungs.
Early signs of dental disease may not be readily visible by the pet owner. Our veterinarians recommend routine semi-annual exams, and which allows us to screen for evidence of dental disease. Signs to watch for include:

  • difficulty chewing food or dropping food while eating
  • weight loss
  • pawing at the mouth or facial swelling and/or pain

 

ferret dental xray under anesthesiaSimilar clinical signs may occur with other ferret health problems such as oral tumors or insulinoma, which is why consultation with a veterinarian is helpful.
Veterinarians at Olathe Animal Hospital are well trained in dental care and routinely examine the ferret’s mouth for an assessment of overall oral health during the annual physical exam. If plaque and tartar have built up, a routine cleaning and polishing of the teeth may be recommended. This procedure is performed under general anesthesia so that a complete oral health assessment and dental cleaning can be thoroughly and safely performed. The soft tissues of the mouth including tongue, gums and the mouth lining are examined for evidence of infection or ulceration. A dental probe is used to examine all teeth for evidence of gingivitis and periodontal disease where pockets of infection exist between the tooth and gum. The teeth are examined for evidence of odor, pain, fractures, discoloration and root exposure. All healthy teeth are then scaled and polished. Fluoride treatment is available to help strengthen enamel and reduce any pain associated with unhealthy teeth. Dental radiographs (x-rays) may be necessary to assess the roots and surrounding bone for abnormalities.

In the event of a serious dental problem, such as a tooth crown fractures or tooth infections and abscesses, our doctors may recommend procedures such as surgical extractions, bonded sealants or root canals. A detailed treatment plan can be provided to discuss what will be involved.

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