Is it because dental disease is found in dogs and cats at just 3 years of age? Is it because dental disease can impact other parts of the body? If you answered both, you're right!
The American Veterinary Dental Society estimate that 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have dental disease by the time they are age 3! That's a lot! Dental disease, or periodontal disease, is progressive inflammation of the supporting structures surrounding the teeth and is the main cause of early tooth loss. Common signs of the onset of periodontal disease include bad breath, a change in eating habits, pawing at the mouth, difficulty chewing, drooling, or loose teeth.
Periodontal disease begins when bacteria form plaque on the teeth. Within days, the plaque hardens and forms tartar, a hard substance that adheres to teeth. The same bacteria work their way under the gums to to cause gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums. The bacteria can then destroy the supporting tissue around the tooth, leading to tooth loss. Inflammation of the bone and tooth support structures is called periodontitis. Gingivitis + periodontitis = Periodontal disease!
Periodontal disease is diagnosed through a dental check-up, part of a wellness nose-to-tail exam. The best type of dental exam is performed when your pet is under anesthesia. The allows the veterinarian and technicians to take dental x-rays to see the level of periodontal disease that occurs below the gumline.
Treatment of periodontal disease depends of the level of the disease. Mild cases can be reversed with daily toothbrushing, oral care chews, water additives, and food additives. More severe periodontal disease that involves the supporting tissues may need to have teeth extracted during a dental.
A professional dental cleaning under general anesthesia is the safest way not only to remove visible plaque and tartar, but bacteria that are living underneath the gums. During a dental, plaque and tartar are removed from the surface of the teeth but also underneath the gums, polishing to smooth any enamel scratches that can harbor bacteria, dental x-rays to evaluate problems below the gumline, removal of fractured of infected teeth, and a thorough full-mouth exam.
February is national pet dental health month, but we celebrate in September as well, offering our clients 10 percent off their total dental bill!
Watch how to brush your pet's teeth below with this video by the AVMA featuring Dr. Rubin!
Easton Animal Hospital