A preventable and common cause of pets not living their full life expectancy is dental disease. For this reason, we maintain a strong focus on dental care including fillings, extractions and root canal therapy.
We have dental X-ray capabilities to evaluate tooth roots. This is invaluable in identifying painful teeth that may look normal on the surface but are causing your pet to suffer.
Dental Care for Pets
We’ve all heard the term “dog’s breath” or “cat’s breath”. For some reason we humans have come to expect our fur people to have a smelly mouth. The truth is, if your pet’s breath smells bad, there is something wrong.
Halitosis is usually caused by the by-products of bacteria. These bacteria are present in plaque – a soft material which builds up on the teeth and surrounding gums, irritating the gum tissues. Tartar, a hard, calcified material, is also laid down on top of the teeth and provides a rough surface for more plaque to stick to. If left untreated, the pets gums will become infected. This is called gingivitis. Eventually, a painful condition called periodontitis sets in. By this time, all the structures surrounding the teeth, including the bone, will be infected and the teeth start to become loose.
The incidence of oral disease in cats and dogs is serious; it is the most common infection in our pets, with 80% of dogs and almost as many cats having some degree of periodontal disease by the age of 3. While bad breath may be the only sign noticed by pet owners initially, as the disease progresses, gums will become red and start bleeding and our pets eating habits will change-usually developing a preference for softer foods because chewing becomes painful.
The effects of periodontal disease don’t stop at the mouth. Bacteria surrounding the roots of the teeth gain access to the bloodstream and cause damage to other organs. Studies have shown that dogs with severe periodontal disease have more severe microscopic damage to their kidneys, heart muscle and liver than dogs with less severe periodontal disease.
The key to managing gum disease is prevention. As long as the surfaces of the teeth are cleaned frequently, plaque will not accumulate and the gums will stay healthy.
Excellent oral health is maintained by daily oral hygiene and this applies to both people and pets.
The gold standard of care here is daily brushing. Special diets and chews that have been given approval by the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) will also help.
Cats and dogs should have a dental check up with the vet at their annual vaccination visit and most pets will need to have a professional scale and polish under anaesthesia as they get older, to maintain the gums and teeth in disease free condition.
Contact us if you have any questions about dental care.