By 3 years of age, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have periodontal disease including, tartar, gum loss, gingivitis, and bad breath.
Dental disease is one of the most common and most often overlooked condition a pet faces. If left untreated, plaque and tartar build up can develop into periodontal disease or gingivitis. Even worse, it sometimes leads to kidney, liver, or heart disease. The mouths of dogs and cats are FILLED with bacteria! Tartar often builds up under the gums where it can't be seen. This allows the bacteria to get into the gum tissue and into the blood stream and travel to other parts of the body to cause disease.
Signs of Dental Disease Include
- Bad Breath! - Bad breath is NOT NORMAL in dogs
- Yellow Teeth - plaque and tartar give the teeth a yellow discoloration
- Swollen, bleeding or receding gums - gingivitis is a painful disease and the first step in periodontal disease. Gingivitis is also a major contributing factor to the spread of bacteria from the mouth to the rest of the body
- Fractured Teeth - often tartar build up will hide a cracked or broken painful tooth. These teeth often become abscessed and result in the need for expensive emergency dental care
- Change in Eating Habits - As the teeth become more diseased and painful a pet may be reluctant to eat dry food or hard food, the feeding of soft canned food then causes the dental problems to become worse until the pet stops eating altogether
Prevention of Dental Disease
- Dental Exams by your veterinarian are the best way to monitor your pet's oral health. Large breed dogs and cats should have their teeth examined at least once a year. Small Breed dogs should have their teeth examined at least every 6 months.
- Brushing your pets teeth 3 times a week is one of the best ways to slow tartar build up
- Feeding hard food instead of canned food allows the pet to chew properly, and the hard food will scrape plaque and bacteria off the teeth
- Milk Bones and other bones fed as treats do NOT clean the teeth and they are very fattening
- Dental chews such as Greenies or Oral Enzadent Chews are designed to scrape plaque and tartar off the teeth, encourage proper chewing, and contain enzymes that break down tartar on the teeth. Talk to your veterinarian about the best dental chew for your pet.
- Aquadent is a new product that can be added to your pet's water. It contains a safe antibacterial ingredient that is attracted to gum tissue and repels bacteria from the teeth. It also freshens breath.
- Professional Dental Cleanings include a through removal of all the tartar and plaque from the mouth. Ultrasonic Scalers (just like your dentist uses) remove tartar up under the gums where it starts and causes the most problems. In addition the teeth are polished and fluoride is applied to keep the teeth healthier longer. After the cleaning a full evaluation is done of the teeth checking for deep pockets, gum recession, loose or broken teeth, cavities, and other problems. Painful damaged teeth can then be treated or removed. A pet often wakes up after a dental cleaning in much less pain then before the cleaning!
Why not have a professional cleaning done on your pet? Many pet owners are concerned about putting their pet under anesthetic.
- Although all types of anesthesia involve some risk, major side effects and complications from anesthesia are uncommon. Your pet's specific risks depend on his or her health.
- Young pets handle anesthetic much better then older ones, therefore regular cleaning in young adults can prevent more lengthy dental procedures in senior pets.
- The biggest risks from anesthesia result from decreased blood pressure and body temperature caused by the anesthetics. We offer and recommend IV fluids during dental cleanings to keep the blood pressure up so that problems are less likely to occur. ALL our anesthetic patients are placed on heating units during surgery to keep their body temperature up, and on heating disks and warming blankets after surgery. We monitor the body temperature of recovery pets up to every 5-15 minutes until it returns to normal and the pet is awake and responsive.
- All anesthetic patients are also placed on monitors to measure heart rate and oxygen levels to ensure that we are alerted early to any potential problems.
- We now have safer and shorter acting anesthetics to greatly reduce the risk of anesthetic problems.
- The risk of anesthetic, across the country, in pets, is .25% or 1 in 400. Kidney disease, which can be caused by dental disease, is the third leading cause of death in older dogs and the second leading cause in older cats. Heart disease, which can be caused by dental disease, is the second leading cause of death in older dogs, and third leading cause of death in older cats.
Most people don't understand the serious consequences of poor pet dental. Talk to your veterinarian today about the best way to keep your pet happy and healthy.