Do you realize that most dental procedures available to humans are becoming available to pets as well? Among the dental procedures being introduced by veterinarians are dental implants. This procedure is still fairly new, and research is limited, but it is still worth considering if your dog is suffering from extreme tooth decay. The pros and cons of this procedure are outlined below.
Potential Benefits of Dental Implants for Dogs
Dogs experience similar oral problems as humans – tooth decay, gum disease, etc. So it makes sense that the same dental treatments should be available to dogs as humans, right? That is the theory behind the benefits of dental implants for dogs. Just as they would for you, dental implants for your dog help:
- Maintain Jaw Structure: when teeth are extracted, remaining teeth shrink in toward each other. This leads to loss of bone density in the jaw. For dogs, it is like returning the jaw to the size and strength is was as a puppy–which doesn't suit a full-grown animal at all. Dental implants are used to preserve the space in the mouth and maintain your dog's jaw structure.
- Encourage Active Lifestyle: Implants should encourage your dog to be active. Without them, your dog will be unable to participate in favorite activities such as tug-of-war with its toys. With implants, however, your dog is able to play games and eat food without limitations. As your dog adjusts to dental implants, its pain levels decrease and it can enjoy regular activities again.
- Maintain Overall Health: When teeth start to go, overall health is at risk. Both heart and kidney failure are linked to poor oral hygiene in pets because bacteria in the mouth travels throughout the body. Preventing further oral problems by getting implants for your dog could guard against the development of these other problems.
Potential Drawbacks of Dental Implants for Dogs
While the benefits of dental implants for dogs are immense, the procedure is not without its drawbacks. Possibly the biggest concern is that long-term benefits haven't been recorded yet. This procedure is still fairly new. In addition to that, recorded drawbacks include:
- Complications from Surgery: Implants require your dog to be put under anesthesia multiple times in a 3-month period. First, your pet needs to have tooth extractions and titanium screws inserted. This can be split over 2 procedures, as well. After a couple of months – to make sure the bone fuses with the implant – a second surgery is necessary to install the false tooth. Putting dogs under anesthesia puts them at risk for infection, development of nervous disorders, or other problems.
- Multiple Return Visits: How often do you have your dog's teeth cleaned? Do you adhere to as strict of a dental schedule for your dog as you do for your children? If your dog gets implants, you will have to schedule regular follow-up visits to make sure the implants are functioning properly.
- Unnecessary Time and Expense: There are too few cases of dog implants to have comprehensive evidence that dental implants are the best treatment option for pets. Experiments with various implant materials – such as titanium vs. ceramic crowns – means that what your pet gets today might not be what is recommended in the next 5 years.
Although the procedure is still fairly new, there are benefits of getting dental implants for your dog. As with any surgical procedure, however, you should consult your dog's vet to see what is recommended based on the age and overall health of your pet. If anesthesia isn't a major concern, you can safely proceed with the oral treatment. To see if this procedure is available at your local animal hospital, consider contacting a clinic like the MontClair Veterinary Hospital.