Dental disease is the most common disease in the dog and cat. This could very well be due to the fact that not many pet owners are aware of the need that their pets have for ongoing oral care.
So What Causes Dental Disease?
There are two types of periodontal disease; gingivitis and periodontitis:
Gingivitis is the earliest stage of periodontal disease, by which the situation is reversible. It symptoms include redness and swelling of the gums, as well as a tendency for the gums to bleed easily.
Periodontitis is the second stage of periodontal disease and is seen by inflammation of the gums and surrounding tissue which has resulted in irreversible loss of the bone and connecting ligaments to the teeth.
Example of a Healthy Canine Mouth
Gingival margin fits closely to the surface of the tooth.
There is no redness or swelling and is an absence of plaque.
Stage 1 – Gingivitis
Deposits of bacteria plaque have caused inflammation
around the gum line, and seen by a deepening red colouration.
Stage 2 – Early Periodontitis
Develops if gingivitis is left untreated and allowed to develop
into a bacterial infection of the gums and tissue of the teeth.
Deep red colouration & swelling.
Stage 3 - Moderate Periodontitis
The gingival will bleed upon gentle probing and mobility
of the teeth may be present. Affected teeth have up to 50%
loss of attachment to surrounding bone. Roots may be exposed.
Stage 4 - Advanced Periodontitis
There is more than 50% loss of attachment. Blood and puss are often
found surrounding the tooth. They may fall out of their own accord or need
to be removed during dental prophylaxis procedures. This stage requires veterinary
intervention for the sake of the pet’s mental and physical health.
What Is The Risk Involved With Dental Disease?
If measures are not taken to remove the plaque and calculus, then pockets of bacteria can invade the gums and surrounding tissues. In severe cases bacteria is absorbed into the blood stream and can be carried to organs such as the heart, kidneys and liver. As the oral infection increases, tonsillitis and pharyngitis can also occur.
Along with making your pet’s breath very smelly, periodontal disease can cause any or all of the following symptoms:
Loosening of the teeth, as well as tooth loss
Retraction of the gums
Bone loss with resulting subsequent fractures of the jaw
What Can I Do To Help My Pet’s Dental Health?
Proper dental care is an extremely important part of your pet’s overall health. By taking care of your pet’s teeth you can help them live a healthier and happier life. Regular dental checks at our surgery every 6 to 12 months are recommended with a dental scale and polish as required.
As well as professional dental care, there are a number of ways you can care for your pet's teeth at home.
As strange as it sounds, brushing your pet’s teeth once a day is the best possible way to maintain their dental health. Softer bristled toothbrushes that face outwards (which allow you to manipulate the brush inside the animal’s mouth) or finger tip brushes are available, as well as special, flavoured animal toothpastes. Never use human toothpaste to brush your pet’s teeth as it contains too much fluoride and is a foaming product that is not meant to be swallowed.
It may take some patience and getting used to, but once you pet has become familiar with having its teeth brushed, the process becomes quite easy. Brushing their teeth once a day is best, but even a couple of times a week can be beneficial. Ask one of our vets or nurses to show you how to brush your pet's teeth at your next visit.
There are special foods available that are designed to help keep plaque and calculus levels from building up. These dental biscuits are tougher than the normal ones and so when the animal bites into them they are chewier, creating a rubbing action against the tooth and gum line. This action works to remove plaque, thus helping to clean the teeth.
Treats & toys:
There are a large range of toys and chew treats that are designed for your pets to chew on that can also help to clean teeth.
The promoted dental-health treats offered at Chancellor Park Veterinary Surgery consist of the greenies, rawhide bones and twist sticks, all of which work to remove plaque while your pet chews on them.
Greenies come in a range of sizes for your canine companions and a range of flavours for the finicky felines.
Rawhide treats are the de-haired, dried out skin of cows, twisted into desirable shapes and sizes. They contain very little fat, and can keep your dog entertained while you’re out of the house.
Come in and speak with one of our nurses to find which treats or toys would be most suitable for your pet.
Professional dental care:
Our main aim is always prevention through good oral hygiene. However, in cases where the disease already existsit is necessary to:
Scale and polish theteeth to remove the hardened calculus and plaque.
Examine and determinethe amount of damage to the bone and tooth ligaments.
Extract any teeth thatare impossible to save
Ultrasonic scaling & polishing:
Here at Chancellor Park VeterinarySurgery we are fully equipped to perform dental prophylaxis procedures. Inorder to do this we utilise an ultrasonic scaler for specialized cleaning ofthe teeth as well as high-speed drills and a polishing unit. Our specialised ultrasonic scaler scaler allows us to clean effectively and safely along the tooth as well as under the gumline; which is extremely important.
A routine dental prophylaxis isgenerally a day procedure; by which you drop your pet off in the morning andcollect them the same afternoon.
You will need to set aside 15mins ofyour time for the check-in process and mini consultation with the veterinarianbefore leaving your pet with us for the day.
Once they have been anaesthetised,the surgeon can complete a thorough oral exam to evaluate the severity of yourpet’s periodontal disease. The surgeon must look for and assess fractured orabscessed teeth, oral tumours, bite abnormalities and other potential problems.
The scaling procedure involvesremoving calculus from above and below the gum line, followed by a polish.
Sometimes it is necessary to perform tooth extractions. Please rest assured that no pet in our clinic has teeth needlessly removed, and will be given pain relief following the procedure.
If the tooth has a deep cavity, is causing the animal pain, is broken, or no longer held firmly inplace by the surrounding bone, it needs to be extracted. If left, not only will your pet experience more pain than if it had been removed, but it provides a breeding ground for more bacteria and will only continue to deteriorate, possibly damaging nearby teeth and surrounding bone as well.
Some cases may require antibiotic tablets to go home with. A veterinary nurse will inform you of everything you need to know about care for your animal following extractions at the time of discharge.
For any questions concerning thedental health of your pet, or if you’d like to book in for a possible dentalprophylaxis procedure, please contact us.