Just like us, our pet’s teeth need looking after too! The health of their teeth and gums has a significant impact on their overall quality of life. Everyone jokes about someone having ‘dog’s breath’ but in reality, a cat or dog’s smelly breath is no laughing matter – it is actually a warning sign for things much more sinister. Dental disease is the most common cause of pain in our pets but your furry friend is very good at hiding pain.
Therefore, how do you tell if your pet has a healthy mouth, or one that needs dental attention?
Periodontal disease affects about 80% of dogs and 50% of cats over three years of age. Bad breath (also known as halitosis), can be one of the first signs of periodontal disease. This includes inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), dental tartar or calculus, fractured teeth, and tooth infection. Dental disease can not only be a source of pain in your pet, but in cases of chronic periodontal disease, bacteria from the mouth can spread and damage vital organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys.
You will likely find bad breath and swollen gums hand-in-hand. Reddening of the gum at the base of your pet’s teeth can be a sign of gum inflammation, also known as gingivitis. This normally occurs due to a reaction of the gum to bacteria around the tooth, and is often the first sign of dental disease.
Firstly, book an appointment with your vet. They will be able to diagnose, treat and set up either an at-home or in-clinic treatment plan, depending on your pet’s needs.
Your vet can also help you with a long-term dental maintenance and prevention plan to help you lessen the risk of dental issues in your pet in the future.
In-clinic dental treatments are performed using equipment similar to what you might find at your dentist. Dental scaling and polishing removes plaque, tartar and bacteria from around your pet’s tooth, leaving their teeth clean and disease free. This is performed under general anaesthesia to ensure the safest and most stress-free experience for your pet. Dental x-rays can also be performed if needed, to assess the root of the tooth for any disease. The aim of all dental procedures is to preserve as many teeth as possible, however if tooth infection is seen, dental extractions may be required, and your vet can discuss this with you.
Just like when we go to the dentist, dental radiographs are an important tool in diagnosis and treatment planning. Over 2/3 of the tooth is below the gum line and not visible without radiographs. In pets with no visual oral disease, radiographs have been shown to demonstrate dental disease in 28% of dogs and 47% of cats.
We recommend all patients should have dental radiographs. We understand clients might opt to not have dental radiographs taken. In particular, cases radiographs are essential. E.g., tooth root abscess or feline oral resorptive lesions.
There are many ways to help prevent further dental disease from occurring in your pet, including regular tooth brushing, dental chews, dental diets, and regular check-ups with your vet.
At Allambie Vet we offer free dental checks for your pet, and can help you create a dental treatment plan, specific to your pet’s needs.
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