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Veterinary Pet Insurance Data Reveals Pet Dental Health a Low Priority for Many Pet Owners
Date:2/1/2008

Pet Owners Opting to Spare the Toothbrush May Face Costly Consequences

BREA, Calif., Feb. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- In light of National Pet Dental Health Month, Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) analyzed claims data to find that pet dental conditions linked to excessive plaque and tooth decay are costing pet owners millions of dollars each year. VPI, the nation's oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, received claims totaling $3.8 million for tooth abscesses, root canals and advanced periodontitis (severe gum disease) in 2007, up from $2.3 million just two years earlier. Despite this, the percentage of policyholders who have their pet's teeth professionally cleaned has remained a low 6.8 percent.

"The conditions that we have seen increase are most often associated with pet owners inadvertently neglecting their pets' teeth," said Dr. Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. "Pet owners can easily tell when a pet is limping or has an abnormal growth, but most do not closely monitor the condition of their pet's mouths. Unfortunately, pets are often only brought to the veterinarian for dental problems once an infection has spread to a more visible area or when the pet's pain is noticeably affecting his or her ability to function."

Pets' mouths are biologically similar to humans. While cavities generally do not affect pets to the same degree as humans, pets' teeth and gums are still susceptible to plaque build-up and bacterial infections. A significant bacterial infection growing under the gums can damage the structural tissues (gum and bone) that hold teeth in place. This is called periodontal disease, and the pet should receive the appropriate treatment from a veterinarian. If a tooth has been cracked or chipped, bacteria may migrate deeper into the surrounding tissues and cause inflammation or an abscess. In some cases, abscessed teeth require extraction.

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SOURCE Veterinary Pet Insurance
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