Pets need their teeth cleaned just as humans do. Few pet owners diligently follow this practice and that’s why 85 percent of all pets have gum disease and infection by the time they are 3 years of age.
Like humans, if teeth aren’t cleaned regularly periodontal disease (gum disease) occurs. It starts when bacteria combine with food particles to form plaque on the teeth. Within days, minerals in the saliva bond with the plaque to form tartar, a hard substance that adheres to the teeth. The bacteria work their way under the gums and cause gingivitis — inflammation of the gums. Once under the gums, bacteria destroy the supporting tissue around the tooth, leading to tooth loss. This condition is known as periodontitis. Gingivitis and periodontitis make up the changes that are referred to as periodontal disease.
Why your pets need clean teeth
- Bacteria from gum disease can affect a pet’s heart, liver and kidneys. The inflammation caused by the bacteria can cause irreparable damage to organs, and serious, even fatal, illness.
- Dental disease can result in bad breath, painful chewing, and tooth loss.
How do I remove the tartar?
A professional veterinary dental cleaning is the only way to remove tartar from the teeth and under the gum tissue to protect your pet’s health. With a professional dental cleaning and follow-up care, gingivitis is reversible. Periodontal disease is not reversible, but diligent at-home dental care and regular veterinary cleanings can slow down the progression of the condition.
What is a dental cleaning?
During a dental cleaning (sometimes called a prophylaxis), plaque and tartar are removed from a pet’s teeth, and the health of the entire mouth (tongue, gums, lips, and teeth) is assessed. A thorough dental cleaning is done while the pet is under general anaesthesia. This keeps your pet free of pain during the dental procedure and allows your vet to fully inspect the teeth and remove tartar from under the gums.
A dental cleaning may include the following:
- Removal of visible plaque and tartar from the teeth
- Elimination of plaque and tartar from under the gum
- Probing of dental sockets to assess dental disease
- Polishing to smooth enamel scratches that may attract bacteria
- Dental radiographs (X-rays) to evaluate problems below the gumline
- Application of fluoride or a dental sealer
- Removal or repair of fractured or infected teeth
- Dental charting so progression of dental disease can be monitored over time
- Inspection of the lips, tongue, and entire mouth for growths, wounds, or other problems
How do I know when my pet needs a dental cleaning?
Regular inspection of your pet’s mouth is important to catch dental disease in the early stages. Tartar may appear as a brownish-gold buildup on the teeth, close to the gumline. Redness or bleeding along the gumline may indicate gingivitis. Other signs of dental disease include:
- Bad breath
- Pawing at the mouth
- Difficulty chewing
- Loose or missing teeth
If you notice any of these signs in your pet, schedule an appointment with your vet.
What are the benefits of a dental cleaning?
A professional dental cleaning removes not only the visible plaque and tartar on the teeth surfaces but also the bacteria under the gums. This eliminates potential sources of infection to the mouth and other organs and protects your pet from pain and tooth loss.
What you can do at home
Once a dental cleaning has been performed, you can take a number of steps at home to keep your pet’s teeth clean and lengthen the intervals between dental cleanings.
Your vet may recommend a plaque prevention product — a substance that you apply to your pet’s teeth and gums on a weekly basis. The product adheres to the teeth surface to create a barrier that prevents plaque from forming.
Just as in people, daily brushing can help remove food particles from between your pet’s teeth. Your vet or any EberVet Vetshop stock pet-friendly toothbrushes that make cleaning easy and pain-free. Never use human toothpaste. It contains ingredients toxic to pets. Pet toothpaste is available from Ebervet Vetshops in delicious meat, fish and malt flavours.
Your pet’s food and the treats you give him can also help keep his teeth clean. Chat with your EberVet Vetshop staff about foods that keep plaque and tartar to a minimum. Chews made from tough animal hide do a great job in keeping teeth clean. – extracted from an article by vetstreet.com