Just like humans, pets’ teeth need looking after too. Pets cannot tell you that they have sore teeth and carnivores in the wild that have dental problems are unable to kill their prey or to chew raw flesh. Fortunately for them, our pets do not have to hunt to eat and usually get feed commercial diets with small, ready to eat pieces, so despite have extensive dental disease they will continue to eat. However problems with the teeth and gums are painful conditions that can have a significant impact on their overall quality of life.
Dental disease begins with a build up of bacteria in your pet’s mouth. Bacteria, combined with saliva and food debris, can cause plaque to accumulate on the tooth. As calcium salts are deposited, plaque turns to tartar (brown or yellow material starting near the gum line of the tooth). Without proper preventive or therapeutic care, plaque and tartar build-up leads to periodontal disease, which affects the tissues and structures supporting the teeth. Periodontal disease can cause oral pain, tooth loss and the mouth bacteria can release toxins that can damage the heart or kidneys.
Often the first sign of dental disease that owners will pick up is bad breath. This smell comes from the accumulation of bacteria and tartar. A healthy dog or cat’s mouth does not have a strong unpleasant smell. There are a combination of methods to help prevent dental disease including:
- Brushing teeth daily – just like us! This is the best form of dental hygiene. Pet toothbrushes and toothpaste are now available. Please do not use human toothpaste formulas on your pet as they are not designed to be swallowed and may be toxic.
- Feed pets raw meaty bones or special dental treats. This can help reduce the accumulation of tartar.
- Specific dental diets with uniquely shapped biscuits to encourage tartar removal.
- Mouth rinses like Hexawash or additives to water like Aquadent.
Despite using these preventive strategies, your pet may still suffer from dental disease. At each yearly vaccination we will inspect your teeth and once there is evidence of severe dental disease we will recommend a dental treatment. Our pets will no sit still in a dentists chair and open their mouths to allow a thorough scale and polish, so we have to give them a general anaesthetic. While your pet is anaesthetized we can perform a complete oral examination, remove tartar build up and extract any rotten teeth.