Periodontal (gum) disease is one of the most common conditions seen by veterinary surgeons today. The problems begin when plaque and tartar are allowed to build up on your pet’s teeth.
Plaque harbours the bacteria, which can infect gum tissue and the roots of teeth, causing disease and tooth loss. The bacteria can also enter the bloodstream and may cause damage to organs. Recent studies have shown that heart, liver and kidney disease can be associated with these bacteria.
What are the signs of poor oral health?
- Persistent bad breath
- Sensitivity around mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty eating and chewing food
- Pawing at mouth
- Loose or missing teeth
- Bleeding, inflamed or receding gums
- Tartar (creamy-brown hard material on teeth)
It is important to remember that pets with dental pain may not show obvious signs and they frequently maintain a normal appetite.
If you are concerned about your pets teeth, contact the practice and arrange a dental care check with one of our Veterinary Nurses.
Good dental care for dogs and cats
The first step in promoting oral health is to have your pet thoroughly examined by a veterinary surgeon. It may be necessary for your pet’s teeth to be cleaned above and below the gum-line. This simple cleaning procedure requires your pet to be anaesthetised. Recent advancements in anaesthetic techniques and materials have greatly reduced the risks previously associated with this procedure.
It is then recommended that an oral hygiene programme is started at home. A good cat or dog dental cleaning routine involves daily tooth brushing as it is considered to be the most effective way of removing plaque. Special toothbrushes and toothpaste designed for dogs and cats are available.
Dental products such as toothpaste are available at our surgery. This toothpaste appeals to pets and does not need to be rinsed. Human toothpastes or baking soda should not be used as they contain ingredients, which should not be swallowed.
Pet toothbrushes are ultra soft and are shaped to fit your pet’s mouth and teeth. However, any soft bristled brush which will reach the back of the mouth is adequate. Brushes should be replaced every 4-6 weeks.
When brushing is not practical, an antibacterial oral rinse or gel may be recommended. These products are specially made for pets and with daily use can help to slow the build-up of dental plaque.