Did you know that one of the most common problems seen in veterinary clinics is also one of the most preventable? Most veterinarians will agree that 75% or more of the health problems that they see in clinic practice are related to cat or dog dental disease—gum disease or periodontal disease. In fact, studies show that most animals already have signs of dental disease by age 3 or 4!
Just like us humans, dogs and cats are as susceptible to gingivitis and periodontal disease. And like us, preventative care can help prevent such problems and keep your pet’s mouth pain free.
Gum disease causes plaque to form around the tooth line causing inflammation (gingivitis). As the gums get inflamed, they swell and form pockets that trap bacteria. The bacteria eat away at the tooth support system. If allowed to progress, eventually the problem leads to tooth and jaw bone loss. Also, many experts believe that the bacteria involved in this process can enter the blood stream and cause other serious problems like kidney or heart disease.
Signs of Gingivitis in Pets
Early signs of gingivitis are redness around the gum line, bleeding, inability or discomfort while eating, and bad breath.
For dental care to treat periodontal disease, your veterinarian may recommend professional cleaning. At the veterinary clinic, your pet will be anesthetized. Then the tartar and plaque can be removed by the veterinarian by scaling devices (much like when your teeth are scraped during a cleaning). Teeth needing repairs like fillings or root canals can be fixed, and teeth beyond repair can be removed. Then the veterinarian polishes the teeth, which slows the progression of further plaque development. If there are signs of bone loss or other more serious oral problems, your veterinarian can evaluate and may wish to refer your pet to veterinary dental care specialist for further care.
Many products are available to assist you in keeping your pet’s mouth healthy from toothbrushes and toothpaste specifically manufactured for pets to dental care treats (like Greenies) and even dental care additives to put in your pet’s water bowl. Tooth cleaning towlettes as well as finger-shaped dental treatment devices are also available for owners whose pets may be less cooperative for tooth brushing. Also, tartar-control food is available for both dogs and cats. Your veterinarian can help you determine which home treatments are best for you and your pet. He or she can also show you how to brush your pet’s teeth.
Regular veterinary exams every six months to every year and a half will help you determine how successful your home treatment is.
Good preventative care now can help keep your pet’s mouth healthy and pain free while also saving you from a larger veterinary bill later on!
More on Pet Dental Care
How to Brush Your Dog's Teeth
Bad Breath in Dogs and Cats
Products that Clean Cat and Dog Teeth
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.