Just like humans, our pets are vulnerable to gum disease and problems with their teeth. Alarmingly, it is estimated that up to 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 (also known as calculus). This appears as a yellow-brown material on the teeth. Over time the bacterial infection in tartar causes irreversible changes to occur. These include the destruction of supportive tissues and bone, resulting in red gums, bad breath and loosening of teeth. This same bacterial infection is also a source of infection for the rest of the body (such as the kidney, liver and heart) and can make your pet seriously ill. Ultimately, dental disease results in many pets unnecessarily suffering tooth loss, gum infection and pain. It also has the potential to shorten your pet’s lifespan.
What if my pet has dental disease?
Following a professional dental clean, a plan needs to be implemented to minimise build up of tartar again, and the nature of this will depend on the severity of your pet’s dental disease. This may involve regular tooth brushing, feeding special dental chews or a special diet. It is recommended that all pets be examined 6 months after dental cleaning to determine the effectiveness of your dental care routine.
How can I minimise ongoing dental disease?
Long-term control and prevention of dental disease requires regular dental home care. The best way to begin this is to acclimatise your pet from a young age. Dental home care may include:
As with most things in life, when it comes to dental disease, prevention is definitely better than cure. 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.