Dentistry is a rapidly changing area of veterinary science, as the high incidence of dental disease in pets becomes recognised. Recent studies suggest that by 3 years of age, between 70 and 85% of dogs and cats will have some dental disease!
Just like humans, your pets’ teeth need looking after too! The health of their teeth and gums has a significant impact on your pet's 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 begins with bacteria in the mouth forming plaque on the teeth. If this plaque isn't removed, it will harden into tartar (also called calculus) which you can see a yellow-brown material on the teeth. This also allows the bacteria to get into the gums, leading to reddening of the gums and gingivitis. If dental disease is not treated and controlled, it will continue to progress and may result in tooth loss, heart disease or kidney disease. While the early changes and tartar build-up are reversible, more severe changes are irreversible.
Common signs of dental disease you may see in your pet, in order of severity, include:
- Yellow-brown tartar around the gum line
- Inflamed, red gums
- Bad breath
- Change in eating or chewing habits (especially in cats)
- Pawing at the face or mouth
- Excessive drooling
- Missing teeth
- Pain or bleeding when you touch the gums or mouth
If your pet is showing any of these signs of dental disease please book an appointment to see your veterinarian. Early assessment and action can save your pet’s teeth!
How can tartar be removed?
Once dental disease is present, your pet will need to have their teeth cleaned under anaesthetic to remove the tartar and plaque build-up. If severe disease is present, your pet may also need to have some teeth extracted. Other management options can then be instituted to prevent further dental disease developing. the
How can I prevent dental disease?
We are offering a complimentary Dental Program to help you prevent dental issues in your pet. This involves nurse consults every 6 months to monitor your pet's dental health, and to keep on top of any early issues that are detected. During the program, we will create your pet's personal dental plan, and discuss with you how to prevent dental disease from developing.
Long-term control and prevention of dental disease requires regular home care, combined with occasional teeth cleans under anaesthetic. Training your pet to accept handling of their mouth from an early age will help them accept this regular care. Dental home care may include:
- Brushing teeth daily – just like us! This is the best form of dental hygiene that you can implement at home, but please do not use human toothpastes as these may be toxic to your pet. Pet toothbrushes and toothpaste are now readily available, in a variety of flavours depending on your pet's taste. Please do not use human toothpaste formulas on your pet as they are not designed to be swallowed and may be toxic. By introducing teeth brushing early and gently, your pet should come to accept this as part of their daily routine.
- Feed your pet a special dental diet. This can help reduce the accumulation of tartar by acting as a mechanical cleaner to remove built-up plaque.
- Use dental toys, enzymatic chews, or teeth cleaning biscuits, all of which can help keep the teeth clean.
If you have any questions about your pet's dental care, please contact your veterinary clinic.