Pet Dental Care FAQs
Periodontal disease develops in animals for the same reasons as it does in humans. It is a result of the build-up of plaque on the surface of the teeth, around and under the gum line. While bad breath is usually what the owner notices first, usually other oral health issues have already begun to develop and progress. Your pet’s gums can be red, irritated, and may bleed easily. Gingival recession may begin to occur, exposing the roots of teeth, causing pain and damage. Periodontal disease is rated in stages from 1-4. Stage 1 is the least severe, indicating the presence of inflammation and dental tartar, without the loss of tooth support, while stage 4 being the most severe, with severe tartar accumulation and gingival recession, and greater than 50% loss in tooth support. Severe periodontal disease can also lead to damage of internal organs such as the kidneys, heart, and liver.
Pets often won’t show pain. Even pets with sore gums, infected mouths and broken teeth will continue to eat so owners may not see any problems. About 80 percent of adult animals have some degree of dental disease, which becomes more severe with age.
So, how can you tell if your dog or cat is in the early stages of dental disease?
“Your pet’s breath should not smell bad. Bad breath can be a sign of infection. Gums may be red and inflamed and the teeth stained with tartar or they may start dropping food.
What are the most common dental problems a pet can have?
“In young pets, we most commonly see retained baby teeth or broken teeth. In older pets, we may see infections of the teeth and gums, slab fractures, often caused from chewing on hard bones, and tooth root abscesses”
Prevention is key to proper oral health in both humans and our pets! As humans we brush our teeth on a regular basis, brushing is the most important preventative action that can be provided by an owner. Additionally, just as with human beings, annual professional dental cleanings are extremely important for our pet’s dental health. Dental cleanings performed by your veterinarian are done while your pet is under anaesthesia.
It’s in the pets best interest to have them examined and treated for dental disease while they are under anaesthesia. This ensures they experience no pain and are not placed under unnecessary stress. It also means that owners get the best value from their pet’s oral health exam because it is thorough and investigates everything above and below the gum line.
“At home, we also recommend regular teeth brushing and many cats and dogs can be trained to enjoy having their teeth brushed, especially if you start at an early age.”
Information is also available on the AVMA at https://www.avma.org/Events/pethealth/Pages/February-is-National-Pet-Dental-Health-Month.aspx and the AVA website at www.ava.com.au/dental-month