Dental disease is one of the most common owner concerns and exam findings in our pets. Most dogs and cats over three years of age have it to some degree, and it progresses with time.
Bad breath and visible tartar are there most evident to pet owners, but this is not the real concern. The real damage is what is hiding below the gun line. Teeth are like icebergs. There is much more lurking below, and it is the problems with the gum line that are the real concern.
Bacteria get into the plaque under the gums and secrete toxins which can lead to bone loss and loose teeth. Studies have also shown that these bacteria can lead to damage to the heart, liver and kidneys.
The only way to completely assess oral health and treat any concerns is with anesthesia and radiographs are necessary to determine what cannot be seen under the gum line.
Abscessed, loose or fractured teeth cause pain and need to be extracted although some fractured teeth can be repaired with a root canal that can be done by a veterinary dental specialist. After any concerns have been addressed the healthy teeth are cleaned and polished to help slow down further plaque and tartar buildup.
Home care after a professional cleaning is essential to maintain good dental health and to try to reduce the need for frequent veterinary visits. Brushing your pet’s teeth daily with an enzymatic toothpaste is the best defence. If this is not an option then specialty designed dental diets, chews, treats and water additives can help.
Written by Morinville Veterinary Clinic