We all love our pets and as a result lots of face to face contact is often an important part of the time that we spend with them. Have you ever noticed whilst sharing a cuddle with your pet that they have smelly breath? This can often be a sign of dental disease.
Did you know that dental disease affects over 87% of dogs and 70% of cats over 3 years of age?
Signs of dental disease in addition to bad breath can include any of the following:
- Reluctance to eat harder foods
- Pawing or rubbing at the face
- Reduced self-grooming in cats
- Obvious tartar on the teeth
- Swollen, red or bleeding gums
- Broken teeth
- Evidence of pus near the gums
- Swelling under either eye (can be a sign of a tooth root abscess)
Some of these signs can be hard to assess for at home. Therefore, it is important to regularly get your pets’ teeth checked by your veterinarian.
If left untreated dental disease can lead to direct effects within the mouth such as damage to gum tissue and bone within the jaw, development of holes (fistulas) from the mouth into the nasal cavity causing a chronic discharge from the nose, fractures of the jaw and bone infections (osteomyelitis).
Additionally, bacteria from the mouth can enter the blood stream and be carried to various internal organs. Studies in dogs have proven that this can lead to microscopic changes in the heart, liver and kidneys. Additionally, it is known in humans that periodontal disease is linked to a range of health problems including poor control of diabetes mellitus and increased severity of diabetic complications.
Thankfully, dental disease can be readily treated by your veterinarian. For established dental disease a dental scale and polish under anaesthetic is the best option. This procedure involves use of an ultrasonic scaler to non-traumatically remove plaque from the teeth both above and below the gumline. The teeth are then probed gently under the gumline to determine if there is any deterioration of the tooth supporting structures. Finally, the teeth are professionally polished to smooth the enamel surfaces making it more difficult for bacteria to adhere to the teeth. In some cases, dental extractions may also be required. Examples include if teeth are loose, broken or associated with abscesses. Your pet is supported in the recovery period with appropriate pain relief and softer food as directed by your veterinarian. A free recheck a week following the procedure is then always recommended to assess if the mouth has healed well and discuss ongoing dental prevention.
Your veterinarian is also the best point of call to discuss various methods with you to slow the progression of future dental disease. Options available include:
- Brushing teeth with an animal-approved toothpaste or gel. Kits containing toothbrushes and toothpaste designed for animals are available. Your veterinarian can show you how to brush your pet’s teeth or jump over to our ‘Useful Links’ under the ‘Resources’ tab on our webpage to view an instruction video.
- Dental diets and dental treats- these include dry food options like Hills t/d and treats like Greenies. Both are available for dogs and cats. They are also both approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. To be effective these must be given on a regular (e.g. daily) basis.
- Water additives- for the pet that will neither allow you to brush its teeth and dislikes chewing, water additives may assist to slow the progression of dental disease.
If there is any further information you would like on dental disease or would like to get your pets’ teeth checked give us a call on 8373 0301 and let us help keep your pets smiling.