Dental disease is one of the biggest diseases affecting dogs and cats in Australia.
Just like humans, pets’ teeth need looking after too! The health of their teeth and gums has a significant impact on their overall quality of life. Imagine how your mouth would feel, and smell, if you never brushed your teeth. Imagine having a really bad toothache and not being able to tell anyone about it!
Dental disease typically begins with a build-up of plaque, consisting of bacteria, food particles and saliva components, on the teeth. Plaque sticks to the tooth surface above and below the gum line and if not removed will calcify into tartar (also known as calculus). This appears as a yellow-brown material on the teeth. Over time the plaque and tartar can result in periodontal disease, which results can result in irreversible changes to the teeth and supportive structures.
Periodontal disease can result in local problems, such as red and inflamed gums, bad breath, and the loss of teeth. There is also growing evidence that periodontal disease can be associated with disease in distant organs, including the heart, liver and kidneys. Ultimately, dental disease is more than just a cosmetic issue – it can be a cause of significant illness and pain in dogs and cats.
Common signs of dental disease include:
- Discoloured teeth – yellow/brown tartar around the gum line
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Inflamed and red gums
- Pawing at the face or mouth
- Excessive salivation
- Bleeding of the gums or from the mouth
- Change in eating habits
It is important to note that not all pets will show obvious signs of dental disease, so be sure to get your pets mouth examined at least every 6 – 12 months to be on the safe side.
If your pet is showing any of the above signs please give us a call and book an appointment to have your pets mouth examined.
How can you help prevent dental disease?
Long-term control and prevention of dental disease requires regular home care. The best way to begin this is to acclimatise your pet from a young age. Dental home care may include:
Brushing Teeth Daily
Just like us! This is the best form of dental hygiene. Pet toothbrushes and toothpaste are now available. Please do not use human toothpaste formulas as they are not designed to be swallowed and may be toxic to your pet.
Teeth Friendly Chews and Toys
Use dental toys, enzymatic chews, or teeth cleaning biscuits, all of which may help keep the teeth clean.
Special Dental Diets
Feed pets’ special dental diets. This can help reduce the accumulation of tartar.
As with most things in life, when it comes to dental disease, prevention is definitely better than cure. Regular and frequent attention to your pet’s teeth may avoid the need for a professional dental clean under general anaesthetic.