Unfortunately 70% of pets over the age of 2 years old have one or more symptoms of dental disease. Unfortunately it can be very difficult to detect in a conscious pet. Things to look for include bad breath, discoloured, crooked, broken, loose or missing teeth. You may notice a change in food preference, a behaviour change associated with pain such as social withdrawal or lethargy or a lump or sore on the face or jaw.
Untreated dental disease can lead to other serious consequences. Dental plaque is composed of a bacterial film on the teeth. It hardens to form tartar and calculus. The gums become inflamed in response to this (called gingivitis). Untreated gingivitis causes gum loss (gingival recession) and eventual weakening of the periodontal ligament, which leads to tooth mobility and loss. Infection can spread into the jaw, causing a tooth root abscess or throughout the body and affect other organs including the heart. Dental disease is also very painful, as some of you probably have experienced.
Treatment begins with a general check-up with your vet or vet-nurse. Further examination under general anaesthesia may be advised if there are any problems seen or your pet is frightened of having their mouth examined. A dental scale and polish may be advised, during which all teeth and gums are examined thoroughly, including a dental probe below the gum line. At this time it can be determined if any teeth need to be extracted.
After your pet’s dental exam or cleaning if required, a home-care program may be recommended to prevent dental disease. The gold standard in dental care is daily brushing. If zoo-keepers can brush a tiger’s teeth then we should be able to brush our pets’. It does require patient training using gradual conditioning with lots of positive reinforcement. See the video link attached of young Elsie the poodle having her teeth cleaned and notice how many treats she is getting.
If brushing is not for you, then there are many other ways of helping to keep teeth clean. Chewing on hard food performs a mechanical type of scaling. Dental chews may help too, as long as your pet chews them properly. Bones are a popular tool, but come with many provisos (not too hard, not too small, not cooked, not left out too long etc.). There are some additives for food or water that claim to prevent plaque from forming. Talk to your vet if in doubt about what dental product is best for your pet.
Some pets that have lost teeth or have poor teeth alignment for example may require regular dental scaling and polishing to prevent further tooth loss. Regular check ups are very important.
Call 46476199 for an appointment.