Did you know that over 80% of dogs and 70% of cats suffer from dental disease by the age of three? Dental disease, also known as periodontal disease or gum disease, is the most common health condition affecting dogs and cats. Pets need routine dental care to prevent gum disease. And good dental health is about more than a pearly white smile; it affects your pet's overall health. Over time, oral bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and affect your pet's heart, lung, liver, and kidneys. If we see signs of gum disease during your pet's wellness exam, we may recommend following up with more extensive dental care, ranging from a professional cleaning to dental surgery. We also recommend you look for out the symptoms of dental disease at home so that you can alert us to any potential problems.
Symptoms of dental disease:
During your pet's annual wellness visit, you can expect your veterinarian to examine your pet's teeth and gums for signs of dental disease. However, most dental disease occurs below the gumline, where it cannot be seen. This means that oftentimes more thorough examination is needed to determine the extent of the problem. You veterinarian may recommend dental x-rays to assess the health of the jaw and the tooth roots and a dental cleaning to remove plaque and tartar from the gumline. Dental cleaning is done under anesthesia to allow for the most complete and safe cleaning. If your pet has a serious dental problem, such as loose or broken teeth, your pet may need surgery to resolve the issue.
The only way to prevent dental disease is by taking care of your pet's teeth at home. Just like we brush our teeth every day, pets need daily brushings to keep their teeth healthy between dental cleanings. Daily brushing is best, but if you don't have the time to brush every day, brushing a few times a week is still helpful. The advantage of taking care of your pet's teeth at home is that it reduces your pet's need for professional dental cleanings, which will save you a lot of money and effort in the long run. Remember to use a pet-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste, as human toothpaste can be toxic for pets. There are also many treats and dry foods you can feed your pet that are designed to clean your pet's teeth while they chew.