What Is Dental Disease?
Just like humans, our pets are vulnerable to dental and oral disease. Alarmingly, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats suffer from some form of dental disease by the age of three.
When there is a build up of bacteria, food particles and saliva on the teeth plaque is formed. Plaque sticks to the tooth surface above and below the gum line and if not removed will calcify into tartar. Over time the bacterial infection caused by the tartar can cause inflammation of the gum tissue, cavities and infection. Other dental disease issues include chipped or broken teeth, bad breath and gingivitis. Severe dental disease can also become a source of major infection for the rest of the body and organs including the kidneys, liver and heart. Dental disease if unprevented, can significantly affect your pet's quality of life and can shorten their life span.
Treating Dental Disease
We recommend that you have your pet's teeth checked every 6 months by your veterinarian. The vet can identify the severity or grade of their dental disease and make a recommendation for treating your pet.
Your pet may require several dental procedures throughout their life which includes assessment of the teeth, scaling and polishing and in some cases, extraction of damaged teeth. Pet's should always undergo a general anaesthetic for dental procedures to ensure both patient and person safety and also to ensure their teeth and gums can be cleaned thoroughly. Once teeth have been assessed and charted, they are then scaled using an ultrasonic scaler and then polished using a dental polisher and specialised fine-grade paste.
Dental X-rays are always recommended with our dental procedures. Three quarters of the tooth are below the gumline, and without dental X-rays we are unable to fully assess the whole tooth including their roots. X-rays can help to determine if teeth need to be extracted or can be saved.
Sometimes teeth are required to be extracted if they are damaged, diseased and causing discomfort. Cats and dogs do very well with extracted teeth and after the recovery period can go back to eating their usual diet. Pain relief and antibiotics are administered when teeth are extracted. We will perform post-operative checks during the recovery period to ensure your pet's mouth is healing well.
Preventing Dental Disease
The best way to prevent dental disease is to keep on top of your pet's dental care. There are a number of things that owners can try at home to help prevent tartar build up including:
- Brushing teeth - this is the best form of dental care. Pet toothbrushes and toothpastes are available from vets or pet shops and with slow introduction many pets will tolerate brushing.
- Dental diets and treats - there are specialised biscuits and treats that can help reduce build up on your pets teeth.
- Water/food additives - there are water or food additives that can help to reduce build up of plaque.
- Regular dental checks with your vet
Regular and frequent attention to your pet's teeth may avoid the need for a professional dental clean under anaesthetic, and will also improve your pet's overall health.
To book a complementary nurse dental check or dental procedure for your pet, call the clinic or book online.