By: Katherine Bryson, RVT
Did you know that February is National Dental Health Month? Veterinary teams across North America use this month to educate pet owners and raise awareness of dental health issues surrounding pets. Continue reading to find out how to keep your pets teeth pearly white and avoid costly dental treatments!
Let’s talk teeth…
What is Dental Disease?
Dental disease doesn’t differentiate between dogs, cats or humans for that matter – everyone can be affected equally. Dental disease is also referred to as periodontal disease. Dental disease is the most common condition affecting pets and is 100% preventable. By three years of age most pets are showing some signs of dental disease. Dental disease can be defined as the accumulation of plaque and tartar on the tooth and under the gum line.
What are the symptoms?
- Bad breath – this is often the first sign of dental disease
- Gingivitis – red and inflamed gums
What are the risks?
Why care about dental disease in your pet. Dental disease can cause a number of issues in our furry friends not to mention damage our relationship and bond with them.
- Pets with dental disease have smelly breath. You tend to not want them around as much as they’ll ‘stink’ up the room, you stop letting them give kisses because of their ‘gross’ breath. We aren’t happy and they aren’t happy.
- Dental disease is painful. There’s no doubt about it. Pain can cause a number of medical and behavioural issues. All of a sudden your trusted terrier starts biting – is it his attitude or is he trying to tell you something more?
- If left untreated dental disease can cause damage to the circulatory system, heart, kidneys and liver.
- Advanced dental disease can require extractions, which attribute to increased anesthetic time and increased costs to you.
Let’s talk about the 5 different stages of dental disease..
Clean, healthy teeth. No signs of dental or periodontal disease.
A routine dental cleaning and polish is recommended annually and brushing teeth daily for prevention.
Small amounts of gingivitis have begun and there may be small amounts of plaque or tartar present on the teeth. No bone loss or significant disease present.
A routine dental cleaning and polish is recommended to prevent further dental disease. Daily brushing combined with a dental diet and dental chews may resolve the issue.
There is significant gingivitis present combined with mild-moderate amounts of plaque and tartar. On dental x-rays there will be up to 25% of bone loss present.
This pet needs a dental cleaning and polish ASAP to prevent further dental disease.
There is moderate to severe gingivitis present combined with moderate to severe plaque and tartar. On dental x-rays there will be up to 50% of bone loss present.
This pet required a dental cleaning and polish and will also require dental extractions or treatment from a dental specialist to resolve the dental disease which has already occurred ASAP.