Dogs and cats don’t often get cavities, but they do frequently suffer from other types of dental disease. Periodontal or gum disease, is the number one illness found in dogs and cats.
What is periodontal disease? Periodontal disease is an infection caused by the bacteria found in dental plaque. It often begins with discoloration on the teeth. Without regular dental cleanings, this plaque builds up and turns into tartar. Tartar can dig into the gums, where bacteria can become trapped and cause infections. If left unchecked, periodontal disease can lead to serious pain, infection, and tooth loss. Broken teeth can be extremely painful for pets and can lead to chronic infection, abscess formation, and loss of secondary teeth. Immediate treatment is vital. Performing a root canal will save what’s left of the broken tooth and prevent it from being reinfected. Where root canal is not an option, the tooth should be extracted. Infection from serious periodontal disease can also result in bacteria entering the bloodstream and damaging other organs or body systems in your pet. It can also complicate other underlying diseases, such as diabetes or chronic sinusitis.
Without proper dental care, your pet will most likely suffer from periodontal disease at some point in it’s life. However, bad breath, inflamed gums, missing, loose, or broken teeth, and all of the pain and discomfort such problems cause can be avoided. And while the damage caused by periodontal disease is sometimes irreversible, it can be halted with antibiotics and regular cleaning. The wisest solution is to stop the disease before it starts.
The good news is, dental disease is easily prevented by regular dental examinations, home care, dental products like special foods and treats, and regular dental cleanings.
Beginning at age one, your pet should have an annual dental examination and cleaning. A thorough cleaning removes plaque and tartar above and below the gum line and is aimed at maintaining your pet’s natural oral defences. It will also aid in preventing periodontal disease and other dental problems from becoming established inside the mouth. A good home care program can tremendously extend the positive effects of this type of professional cleaning.
The best form of oral home care is daily brushing. There is no better way of removing disease-causing dental plaque. This type of home care can seem difficult to start or maintain long term, especially if your pet is less than enthusiastic about such treatments. If you would like help developing this type of home care habit with your pet, a member of our team would be happy to help. We can show you how to brush your pet’s teeth, and provide special brushes, toothpastes, and oral gels specifically made for pets. We can also tell you about special foods and treats that help control dental plaque.
Dry food is generally better than canned for tooth health. However, you’ll get the best results with specially formulated foods that have been proven effective in combating plaque and tartar buildup. Ask us for a recommendation for your pet.
While dental cleanings may seem like an added expense, they’re actually a very cost effective investment in your pet’s health. Caught early, dental problems are easy and fairly inexpensive to treat. Neglected, they can turn into serious, costly, and painful problems.
Yes. Unlike with human patients, we can’t explain to your pet what’s happening and why. For that reason, we need to anesthetize pets in order to access the entire mouth and gums and perform the necessary work thoroughly and safely.
Absolutely not! It is never too late to start. If you are interested in dental care for your pet, please call the hospital and we can exam your pet’s mouth and make recommendations on how and where to start.