Dental disease is the most common problem our pets face, more specifically, the accumulation of plaque or dental tartar. Dental calculus (tartar) is composed of various mineral salts, organic material, bacteria and food particles. In the early stages of accumulation, the material is soft (plaque), but it later hardens and adheres to the teeth. Continual accumulation causes inflammation of the gums and eventual recession of the gums and loose teeth. The breath becomes very odorous and the mouth becomes a dangerous source of infection.
Untreated tooth and gum disease may allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream and cause damage to the valves of the heart, the kidneys and liver.
Healthy gums are pink and adhere tightly to teeth that are white and smooth. Perhaps you have noticed some of the following conditions:
- You routinely examine your pet's mouth and have noticed that the teeth are discolored.
- Your pet's mouth is sensitive and he/she will not allow you to look at the teeth.
- Difficulty eating is evidence of dental pain.
- Bad breath is a noticeable problem.
- Blood or infection has been seen coming from the mouth (or on the bedding).
Treatment for dental disease includes scaling and polishing the teeth. This is done under general anesthesia and will remove calculus at and below the gum line, while polishing will smooth the tooth surface to reduce plaque and tartar buildup. Dental x-rays may be indicated to evaluate the health of the tooth roots.
Maintaining the health of the teeth and gums after a dental includes daily care from you, the owner. This may entail brushing, using an oral rinse or oral chews. Let us design an at-home dental care program that accommodates your lifestyle and abilities.
Having a routine of when you have your pet's teeth cleaned is a great way to ensure their dental health. February is a great month to do so, as many veterinary practices (including ours) give a discount on dental cleaning. However, if your pet needs dental care now, don't wait! Waiting - even if it's just a few months - can make the dental disease much worse!