Dental disease is one of the most common conditions affecting pets over the age of three, but when it starts there are usually no obvious signs and symptoms. Once it advances, it can devastate your pet’s mouth, causing chronic pain, infected gums, tooth and bone loss – hardly the state we want for our best fur friends!
Fortunately, dental disease is preventable. Fairview Veterinary Hospital is here to warn you about the dangers of dental disease in pets, and how to take care of your dog or cat’s oral health.
It Starts With A Pet Dental Exam
One of the reasons we advocate for annual wellness exams is that they allow us to see what’s going on inside your pet’s mouth. Although we won’t be able to see everything (many problems occur below the gumline), we can give you some pointers for brushing at home and various helpful products like dental diets, chews, and rinses.
If there is obvious trouble in your pet’s mouth, we will recommend a full dental exam, digital x-rays, and a professional dental cleaning while your pet is anesthetized.
Dangers of Dental Disease In Pets
Periodontal disease is a term used to describe inflammation or infection of the tissues surrounding the tooth. It occurs when the accumulation of plaque and tartar are left untreated. Over time, these cause either periodontal periodontal pockets or tooth recession around the tooth’s attachment. This can ultimately lead to tooth loss.
The mouth is home to thousands of bacteria. As these bacteria accumulate on the tooth’s surface, they form a film called plaque. If allowed to remain on the tooth’s surface, plaque thickens, becomes mineralized, and creates tartar. Tartar then accumulates both above and below the gumline, causing gingivitis and eventual periodontal disease.
Bad breath is the most common effect of periodontal disease as noted by owners. However, this is usually only the tip of the iceberg. Some other consequences of dental disease include:
- Swollen, irritated, and bleeding gums
- Pawing at the mouth/ chronic pain
- Difficulty eating
- Fractured teeth
- Tooth loss
Left alone, oral bacteria can travel to the bloodstream, and cause major damage to internal organs such as the kidneys, liver, and heart.
Preventing Dental Disease in Pets
With regular dental exams and professional dental cleaning, coupled with at home dental care for your pet, you’ll be well on your way to giving your pet a longer and healthier life. It takes a commitment on your part, but giving your pet up to two more years of life is worth it.