The Importance of Dentistry
Dental care of dogs and cats is one of the most commonly overlooked areas of pet health care.
Dental disease affects much more than fresh breath. It frequently leads to more serious health problems such as liver, kidney and heart disease. That's why more veterinarians are not just treating dental disease, but taking new steps to prevent it.
A major step in this process is encouraging owners to participate in their pet's oral health at home.
It's important for all pet owners to know that pets can lead longer and healthier lives with good dental care. In fact, studies show that proper dental care can extend a pet's life by as much as five years! We encourage you to understand the importance of good oral hygiene when puppies and kittens are only a few months old in order to begin a lifetime of healthy benefits that go far beyond sweet smelling kisses.
What is periodontal disease?
Over 85% of dogs and cats have some type of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease simply means that the gums and bone that hold the teeth in place are being destroyed by oral bacteria. This preventable disease is the number one diagnosed disease in our pets, yet many animals suffer needlessly. Periodontal disease begins with gingivitis, or inflammation of the gum tissue, which is caused by plaque. Plaque is a mixture of saliva, bacteria, glycoproteins and sugars that adhere to the tooth surface. Within minutes after a cleaning, a thin layer of plaque has adhered to the teeth. Eventually this hardens to become calculus or tartar. Calculus by itself is nonpathogenic - it does not cause disease. However, it does create a rough surface for more plaque to adhere to, and pushes the gums away from the teeth, which increases surface area for more plaque to adhere. Eventually, the supporting structures of the tooth (bone, tissue, periodontal ligament) are destroyed and the tooth becomes mobile and will either fall out on its own or need to be extracted. Signs of periodontal disease are bad breath (halitosis), reluctancy to eat, chewing on one side of the mouth, dropping food, pawing at the face or rubbing the face on the floor, drooling, becoming head shy, and painful mouth/face.
We recommend the following care for pets:
- STEP 1: Bring your pet in for a dental exam. Don't wait for his annual checkup if you suspect a problem. We provide free dental consultations previous to a dentistry.
- STEP 2: Begin a dental care regimen at home. Brushing your pet's teeth daily with an animal-safe toothpaste is very important. We also recommend using a specially formulated dental rinse, and dental chews and food. Please ask us if you need instructions on brushing your pet's teeth, or if you have any other questions.
- STEP 3: Schedule your pets for an annual teeth cleaning. This is also very important and ensures we are catching any disease early enough to treat.
Periodontal disease and oral bacteria can easily affect other organ systems including the heart, liver, kidneys, lungs and brain.