What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is no different in pets than in humans. Periodontal disease is the destruction of bone, gum tissue and structures that hold teeth in place. Periodontal disease is caused by bacterial infection that spreads, unseen, beneath the gumline. As the disease progresses, it destroys the bone around the tooth roots leading to mobile, painful teeth. Dogs and cats with advanced periodontal disease often require oral surgery to extract many teeth. Signs of periodontal disease in dogs and cats include:
- Bad breath.
- Loose teeth.
- Teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar.
- Your pet shies away from you when you touch the mouth area.
- Drooling or dropping food from the mouth.
- Bleeding from the mouth or gums.
- Loss of appetite or loss of weight (this combination can result from diseases of many organs, and early veterinary examination is important).
How can I prevent periodontal disease?
Fortunately periodontal disease is very preventable. There are two key components to preventing periodontal disease in your pet – home dental care and annual veterinary dental care. Imagine what your own mouth might be like if you never brushed your teeth. Your pet’s mouth is no different. Daily brushing remains the gold standard to prevent plaque and calculus and slow the progression of periodontal disease. In addition, there are diets, treats, chews and water additives that have the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of acceptance that can be used to assist you with your pet’s preventive oral healthcare program.
What is a professional dental cleaning?
While under anesthesia, a comprehensive veterinary dental cleaning will include the following, without any pain or discomfort to your pet:
- A complete oral exam and radiographs (x-rays) to identify any problems beneath the gum-line. (This is similar to the x-rays you might receive from your own dentist.) Common painful problems that could be identified with radiographs are broken teeth and roots, periodontal disease, dead teeth, abscesses or infected teeth.
- A full cleaning under the gum-line where periodontal disease lurks. It would be impossible to clean this area on an awake dog or cat, but this is where periodontal disease begins with bacteria ‘living’ below the gum tissue.
- Professional scaling and polishing of the crown, or visible part of your dog or cat’s teeth. A veterinary cleaning does require scaling or scraping the tooth to remove plaque and calculus. Scaling is completed to remove plaque and tartar build-up on the tooth crown.
- Last, the teeth are polished leaving a completely smooth surface of the tooth which discourages plaque and bacteria from adhering to the rough tooth surface.
How often does my pet need a professional dental cleaning?
An annual visit for a veterinary dental cleaning is an important part of your pet’s oral health care program. Annual dental procedures under general anesthesia allow your veterinarian to visually examine each tooth and use a dental probe around each tooth, in addition to obtaining radiographs (X-rays) to evaluate the tooth structure that cannot be seen with the naked eye. When you do this regularly, your pet’s mouth is evaluated, thoroughly cleaned and any bacteria or beginnings of periodontal disease can be addressed immediately before it causes extensive and expensive damage. Early intervention is essential. Waiting until your pet has advanced periodontal disease can mean multiple teeth need to be extracted, which means longer time under anesthesia for your pet and a bigger bill for you.
Call us today to schedule your professional dental cleaning. Your pet will thank you with a clean and healthy mouth!