According to the
American Veterinary Dental Society, by 3 years
of age, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have oral
disease. This represents the most frequently
diagnosed health problem in pets. Some signs
commonly associated with oral disease include
yellow or brown tartar buildup, red inflamed
gums, bad breath, a change in eating or
chewing habits, pawing at the face and/or
generalized depression. The pet owner however
may not notice any symptoms at all although
the gum inflammation may be extensive!
bacteria and saliva combine to form plaque
around teeth at the gumline. The plaque
combines with calcium salts in the mouth to
form tartar. Tartar buildup begins to migrate
below the gumline and results in separation of
the gum from the tooth. At this stage,
professional cleaning is needed as brushing
alone will not remove the tartar that is below
the gumline. The animal will have to be
anesthetized to assess the degree of
separation below the gumline and to remove the
tartar both below and above the gumline.
Dental radiography can be performed to
visualize the teeth, roots and structures
below the gumline. A dental prophylaxis
involves several steps: removal of tartar with
ultrasonography, manual scraping and
curettage, polishing of surfaces, flushing,
disinfection and fluoride application.
If left unchecked,
more bacteria and food debris will accumulate
and lead to deterioration of the soft tissue
and bone surrounding the tooth. This results
in irreversible periodontal disease that in
turn can lead to the loss of a tooth.
Your pet’s dental
disease may be a sign of other disease
processes occurring elsewhere in your pet’s
body. A thorough physical exam combined with
appropriate laboratory work can determine if
this is the case.
There are other
reasons you should pay close attention to your
pet’s dental health. Dental disease can affect
other significant organs in the body. Bacteria
in the mouth can circulate through the blood
stream and potentially cause serious kidney
infections, liver disease, lung disease and
heart valve disease.
should evaluate your pet’s dental health at
least once a year. We can recommend and
demonstrate preventative measures you can
begin at home. Our wellness programs emphasize
and explain how you can avoid costly dental
procedures with your pet in the future.
If you are
concerned about your pet’s dental health,
please book an appointment for a veterinary
exam and consultation.