Dental Care and Periodontal Disease
• What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal Disease, a form of Dental Disease, is a painful inflammatory condition involving bacteria attacking the gums, ligament and bony tissues which surround and support animals’ teeth.
Most periodontal infections begin with plaque – a layer of bacteria, salivary proteins and food debris which forms naturally on the surface of the teeth.
When plaque builds up in the groove between the teeth and the gums it causes irritation, redness and swelling (gingivitis). It is impossible to rinse plaque away with water; it must be removed mechanically by means of diet, instruments, tooth-brush or other oral hygiene aids. Within days, the plaque becomes mineralised and produces tartar.
At this stage, a professional cleaning of your pets teeth by your veterinarian will prevent further damage.
If the build up is allowed to continue, deepening pockets of plaque form between the teeth and gums and the bacteria attack the tissues that hold the teeth in place.
Bacteria from the infected mouth now have access to the bloodstream; this gives them a clear path to the vital organs.
The organs which are most likely to be infected are those with the highest blood flow – the lungs, heart, kidneys, liver and even the brain. Damage to these organs by infection can shorten the lives of dogs and cats.
• Dogs that are more prone to developing the disease:
• Small Breeds
• Brachycephalic (‘squashed face’) breeds
• Dogs fed a diet of mainly soft food
• What I might see?
The signs of periodontal disease are:
• Bad breath – one of the first signs of periodontal disease
• Red and swollen gums
• Yellow-brown crust of plaque and tartar on the teeth near the gum line
• Loose and/or missing teeth
• Pawing at mouth
• Difficulty eating
• Decreased appetite
What should I do?
• Teeth brushing with special pet toothpastes (human toothpaste can upset your pet’s stomach) e.g. C.E.T dental products for pets daily brushing is the best way to maintain dental health.
• Dental diets
Eukanuba ‘DentaDefense’ contains micro-cleansing crystals to help reduce tartar build up across the whole mouth during and after meals.
Hills ‘t/d’ and ‘Oral Care’ food; the kibble’s fibre matrix resists crumbling, engulfs the tooth before it splits and fibres wipe the tooth surface clean
Dental treats for dogs and cats e.g. ‘Greenies’
• Chew toys
Rawhide chews and bones (raw bones must be large enough that they can chew on them but not chew them up)
• Oral rinses
Additives for pets drinking water to reduce plaque, bacteria and calculus
• Pet health checks- Every 6-12 months.
As your pet ages dental examinations should become more frequent
• Professional dental cleaning
Every 6-18 months depending on the condition of your pet’s teeth
This involves ultrasonic scaling to remove tartar and polishing of the teeth with a micro-particle paste.
To help prevent the spread of infection to other organs and to assist healing
• Surgery e.g. for extraction of teeth