Much like in humans our pets will suffer from dental disease. The severity will vary from pet to pet.
Dental problems occur when plaque builds up on the teeth. If the plaque is not removed it can harden into ‘tartar’ or tooth calculus. It may also lead to inflammation of the gums known as gingivitis. This may become tender for your pet. The good news is gingivitis can be reversed. It would take a regular home care dental programme to be carried out and professional therapy from a veterinarian but left to progress it can become a more serious problem called periodontitis. This can cause irreversible damage causing your pet to loose teeth and have a very sore mouth. Ensuring you keep a regular check on your pet’s teeth will help avoid serious problems.
The symptoms to look out for are
Halitosis (bad breath)
This is usually the first sign of periodontal disease.
Increase in saliva production
There may be a reason for the additional saliva your pet is producing.
Plaque and tartar build up on the teeth
Plaque is typically a colourless build up on the teeth. Tartar on the other hand is a less attractive yellow/brown hard build up.
Reluctant to eat or a change in eating habit
Dental disease may not stop your pet from eating completely but they may start showing signs such as a dislike to hard foods or irritability when eating which may indicate a mouth problem. Some animals will start dropping food when eating others will tend to only eat wet/soft foods or eat slower/faster to reduce the discomfort.
Inflamed and/or bleeding gums
Reddened gums are a sure sign your pet has a problem. Your pet’s gums should be a salmon pink colour. Bleeding gums are an even clearer sign there is a problem and most often spots of blood can be seen on toys.
Prevention is better than cure. It is never too late to start an oral care program to help reduce dental disease progress. If your pet has undergone a dental procedure then aftercare is essential to help prevent reoccurring problems.
Brushing the teeth
This is the best way to ensure a healthy mouth. It is important that specialist pet toothpastes are used so that your pet is at no risk of consumption of the toothpaste. Mouthwashes are also available which help reduce the bacterial and decrease the inflammation.
There are diets which have been designed specially with oral hygiene in mind. They are usually dry foods which help to reduce the tartar build up.
Regular check ups
This is one of the best ways to keep an eye on your pet’s teeth. This can be arranged by contacting the veterinary surgery.
Sometime the disease will be too advanced for preventative care alone and professional veterinary treatment may be advisable. The veterinary surgeon may recommend a full dental examination with dentistry treatment. This would, providing your pet is healthy enough, include a general anaesthetic to be administer to your pet.
Scale and polish
Any plaque/tartar can be removed with an ultrasound de-scaler tool. The teeth are then polished allowing any scratches on the teeth to be smoothed reducing the risk of plaque sticking to the teeth again.
The veterinary surgeon will extract any teeth that might be an ongoing source of pain or infection for your pet.
Your veterinary surgery may prescribe a course of antibiotics to help provide protection from bacteria during dental procedures. Generally a course will be prescribed prior to and for several days following the procedure to ensure your pet is covered throughout the whole healing process.