Your pet’s dental health is an important part of their overall health and unfortunately, proper dental care is often overlooked. Not addressing your pet’s dental health can pose a serious health risk with the potential to damage not only your pet’s teeth and gums but its internal organs as well, with dental disease leading to more severe secondary diseases like heart or kidney disease. Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection of the mouth. There are four stages of periodontal disease, progressing from plaque and mildly inflamed gums to established gingivitis (gum disease) and then on to mild and ultimately severe periodontitis, which may involve bone and/or tooth loss.
However with a good at home dental care routine and regular professional dental cleanings, you can help prevent your dog from getting dental disease. It’s important to address your pet’s oral health even when they are young because according to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will develop some form of oral disease by the age of three. Get your pet used to your handling and examining their teeth and gums as young as possible.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends that you brush your pet’s teeth daily and this is the most effective way to prevent dental disease and maintain good oral health for your pet. But in most cases, this is not always feasible, especially if your pet will not cooperate. However, it’s not a reason to disregard the brushing process altogether. By not brushing your pet’s teeth, formations of bacteria, food particles, and saliva combine and collect between the gums and teeth, which progresses into tartar buildup. Over time this can develop into periodontal disease, which erodes at the gums and can result in bad breath, bleeding gums, and pain.
In addition to brushing – or in place of, depending on what your pet will allow – you can also use an oral rinse. One of the most recent innovations in home dental care is an oral rinse that kills bacteria in your pet’s mouth. This can be helpful especially if your pet is not willing to let you directly clean her teeth but can be used in addition to brushing. Water additives can also be beneficial to your pet’s oral health. Water additives break down the bacteria that cause plaque and tartar in your pet’s mouth. Plaque and tartar are a serious problem, as they can lead to bleeding gums and inflammation if not treated. This can be very painful for your dog and could even cause his or her teeth to fall out. Many dogs also suffer from halitosis, commonly known as bad breath, and using a water additive can help whiten your dog’s teeth and freshen his or her breath for optimum oral health.
Another important step in caring for your pet’s dental health is to have your vet perform a complete oral examination on an annual basis and depending on their recommendations, have a dental cleaning performed. Here at Big Lick Vet, we offer a Comprehensive Dental Exam and Treatment that includes a physical examination, pre-anesthetic blood work, dental scale and polish, and dental radiographs. This entails a full cleaning under the gum-line where periodontal disease lurks. It would be impossible to clean this area on an awake dog or cat, but this is where periodontal disease begins with bacteria ‘living’ below the gum tissue.
A veterinary cleaning does require scaling or scraping the tooth to remove plaque and calculus. Scaling is completed to remove plaque and tartar build-up on the tooth crown. Last, the teeth are polished leaving a completely smooth surface of the tooth, which discourages plaque and bacteria from adhering to the rough tooth surface. Dental x-rays identify any problems beneath the gum-line. (This is similar to the x-rays you might receive from your own dentist.) Common painful problems that could be identified with radiographs are broken teeth and roots, periodontal disease, dead teeth, abscesses or infected teeth.
If plaque (the non-visible film on teeth) and dental calculus (the visible mineral deposits) are not routinely cleaned from pets’ teeth, they can cause gingivitis (painful inflammation of the gums), bad breath (halitosis), periodontal disease, and eventually, tooth loss. There are four stages of periodontal disease, progressing from plaque and mildly inflamed gums to established gingivitis (gum disease), and then on to mild and ultimately severe periodontitis, which may involve bone and/or tooth loss. Dental disease is incredibly painful, as well as detrimental to overall health and happiness — in people and pets. Pets with periodontal disease are more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease as well as other forms of bodily organ damage. Periodontal disease is shown to have a relationship with heart disease, because bacteria from the mouth constantly enters the blood stream and adheres to the arteries surrounding the heart.
But with a good at-home dental care routine and regular professional dental cleanings, you can help prevent your dog from getting dental disease. We’re excited to inform our clients that we are expanding our Pet Dental Health Month promotion to include two different months – both January and February 2019. We will be offering 10% off of our Comprehensive Dental Exam and Treatment and look forward to giving your pet a clean slate from which you can work at home to establish a good oral health routine with your pet.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please give us a call and one of our experienced technicians would be happy to discuss your pet’s individual needs and provide an estimate!
Helpful Resources on Pet Dental Health: