Dentistry is a rapidly growing area of veterinary science. We have seen a greater awareness over the last 25 years of its importance to the overall health of the animals we treat. Just like humans, pets’ teeth need looking after too! The health of their teeth and gums has a significant impact on their overall quality of life. Imagine how your mouth would feel, and smell, if you never brushed your teeth. Imagine having a really bad toothache and not being able to tell anyone about it! 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 even heart or kidney problems.
Common signs of dental disease, in order of severity, include:
- Yellow-brown tartar around the gumline
- Inflamed, red gums
- Bad breath
- Change in eating or chewing habits (especially in cats)
- Pawing at the face or mouth
- Excessive drooling
- Pain or bleeding when you touch the gums or mouth
If your pet is showing any of these signs of dental disease please book an appointment to see one of our veterinarians. Early assessment and action can save your pet’s teeth!How can I prevent dental disease?
Long-term control and prevention of dental disease requires regular home care. The best way to begin this is to accustom your pet from an early age. Dental home care may include:
- 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 diets. This can help reduce the accumulation of tartar.
- Use dental toys, enzymatic chews, or teeth cleaning biscuits, all of which may help keep the teeth clean.