Did you know that up to 80% of dogs and 70% of cats that don’t receive proper dental care will develop signs of dental disease by the age of three?
Without proper dental care, your pet will most likely suffer from bad breath, inflamed gums, missing, loose, or broken teeth. All of these problems can cause pain and discomfort. Dental disease can also lead to systemic health problems in dogs and cats.
The good news, however, is that dental disease is easily prevented by regular dental examinations, home care, and dental cleanings.
While dogs and cats do not typically get cavities the way humans do, without proper care, they often suffer from periodontal disease. Otherwise known as gum 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 then 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. The infection 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. Periodontal disease is one of the leading illnesses found in both dogs and cats.
When left unattended, the damage caused by periodontal disease is often irreversible. Usually however, it can be halted with antibiotics and regular cleaning. The wisest solution is to stop the disease before it starts. Beginning at age one, your pet should have an annual dental examination and cleaning performed by your veterinarian. A thorough cleaning removes plaque and tartar both above and below the gum line. This proactive treatment is aimed at maintaining the natural oral defenses so that periodontal disease and other dental problems have a harder time becoming established.
Signs your pet may be suffering from poor dental health can include:
- Bad breath
- Visible Tartar on the Teeth
- Loose or Missing Teeth
- Difficulty Eating
- Drooling or Excessive Salivation
- Pawing at the Teeth or Mouth
- Red, Irritated, Swollen, or Bleeding Gums
A good home care program can tremendously extend the positive effects of the professional cleaning. The best form of oral home care is daily brushing with a soft toothbrush. During a consultation, your veterinarian can show you the best way to brush your pet’s teeth. Available at the clinic are specialized products to help you keep your pet’s teeth and gums clean. It is very important that special ‘pet friendly’ toothpaste be used, as the pH is different in that which is used for humans.
Another way you can help prevent plaque and tarter from accumulating in your pet’s mouth is through a special diet. 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. Your veterinarian will be able to assess your pet’s health and recommend which specific diet would be most beneficial for him or her.