Cleaning your pet’s teeth. It’s not usually the first thing most would think of when it comes to overall better health for your companion. However, it is more detrimental than you would expect.
It is incredibly important to bring attention to your pet’s teeth, as eighty percent of all pets develop some sort of dental disease by the time that they turn 3. This is an astounding statistic, and it is one of the most common diseases found in dogs. Without prevention or treatment, these can grow into serious health problems in your pet’s later life.
After all, you need regular dental care and you brush your teeth everyday – why wouldn’t your pets?
Where it starts
There are a number of reasons a pet can develop dental disease. A major contributor is Diet, but others include infections, genetics, medications, inflammation, or just an absence of dental care.
But how exactly are these dental diseases coming to fruition?
Teeth generally develop dental disease when bacteria and food particles combine and stick to the surface of teeth to form plaque. Certain minerals in the saliva harden the plaque into tartar, which can spread to under the gum line. Toxins that discharge from the bacteria can ultimately lead to tissue damage, and this condition is called periodontitis.
As far as the immune system is concerned, this bacteria is foreign and a response is triggered. Inflammatory chemicals are released, and in most cases these damage the supporting tissues of the tooth and cause gingivitis. This can eventually lead to tooth loss. So instead of solving the bacterial problem, it instead makes the disease worse in its host.
As previously mentioned, diet is the main influencer for pets to develop dental disease. This in most cases points towards dry food such as kibble. Unfortunately, dry food causes dental decay due to the carbohydrates in most commercial kibbles. These carbs break down into sugars, which in turn stick to the teeth of your beloved companion.
Upon external inspection, how can you tell if your pet is suffering from dental disease?
- bad breath or odour from mouth
- dropping food from mouth
- visible plaque and tartar
- tilting head to one side when chewing
- loose teeth or loss of teeth
- unwillingness to eat or chew hard objects
- crying out in pain
- shying away from touch
My pet shows symptoms – What Now?
Regular inspections of your pet’s mouth are detrimental in catching dental disease in its early stages. Tartar appears as a build-up on teeth close to the gumline, usually brownish-gold in colour. An indication of gingivitis includes any redness or bleeding along the gumline.
Even if the symptoms are minor, do not ignore the warning signs and take your pet to the vet. Vets perform a Dental Cleaning, which includes a complete dental examination, scaling to remove calculus and polishing. A dental cleaning not only removes external problems such as tartar, but also removes the bacteria and eliminates the potential of further infections. This is performed under general anaesthetic.
Dental hygiene homecare is strongly recommended for reducing plaque and calculus build up. For highly dedicated owners and willing pets, daily brushing is the best home care available. There are many pet toothbrushes on the market and it is essential that pet toothpaste is used in conjunction (never use human toothpaste).
There are many other dental products on the market in the form of diets, chews, mouth washes and water additives. We can give you the best advice on what will work best for you and your pet.