Pets Have Teeth Too
Imagine how your teeth would look and feel if you didn’t brush them everyday! We all know that to maintain healthy teeth and gums a combination of daily brushing and regular visits to the dentist are essential. Unfortunately routine dental care is an often neglected part of our pets’ general health care. Research shows that at about the age of only two, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have evidence of dental disease. The effects of dental disease are not just seen in the mouth, they affect the whole body. Unless you are regularly providing some form of dental care, you are neglecting an important factor in the overall health and well being of your pet.
Periodontal (gum) disease is one of the most common conditions we see at the practice. The problem starts when plaque and tartar are allowed to build up on your pets’ teeth. Plaque harbours bacteria, which can infect gum tissue and the roots of teeth resulting in disease and tooth loss. Also, bacteria can enter the blood stream and cause certain heart, liver, kidney and joint diseases. Good dental care lengthens pets’ lives by an average of 10-20% through the prevention of these secondary problems.
If you notice any of the following:
- Persistent bad breath (halitosis)
Sensitivity around the mouth
Bleeding or inflamed gums (gingivitis)
Tartar (yellow, brown, hard deposit on teeth)
Difficulty eating or not eating (especially biscuits or hard food)
Drooling saliva from the mouth
Pawing at the mouth
Why does your pet get dental problems?
Many factors can contribute to your pet developing dental problems including:
- Poor oral hygiene: without preventative care, plaque and tartar can accumulate and lead to, gingivitis and periodontal disease
- Type of food: feeding your pet sticky (soft) food can lead to a more rapid accumulation of plaque.
- Breed: Overcrowded or misaligned teeth are more likely to encourage periodontal disease. This is more often a problem for smaller breeds of dogs and certain breeds of cat. Cats are especially prone to gingivitis and neck lesions, which are a type of cavity that forms at the gum line and eventually destroys the tooth.
- Age: dental disease occurs more commonly as pets get older.
- Trauma: broken or otherwise damaged teeth can be painful and also allow secondary infections to occur with resultant tooth loss.
What can you do to keep your pets’ teeth healthy?
Daily or even weekly brushing with toothpaste made for pets will help prevent tartar build-up. You can reduce dental problems by feeding a dry pet food. Various dental chews and some specially designed rubber toys will also assist. Just as for people, your pet requires regular dental check-ups and cleaning or extractions as necessary. Under anaesthesia the teeth are cleaned with an ultrasound dental scaler and then polished which smoothes the tooth surface to help discourage future tartar formation. We can also arrange for advanced procedures such as root canal work, restorations and even braces, should your pet need them.