What exactly IS dental disease??

Does your pet suffer from bad breath? Bad breath can be a sign of a more serious problem such as dental disease. While cavities tend to be the most common dental problem in humans, pets tend to get tartar build up on their teeth, which can lead to irritation of the gums, exposure of the tooth roots, gum infections, and eventual tooth loss.

All pets are different and the genetics and chemistry of their mouths tend to play the largest role in the amount of tartar build up the teeth and how often they need their teeth cleaned. Diet plays only a minor role in this accumulation. Bacteria on the teeth leads to plaque. As plaque accumulates and hardens, it forms tartar calculus. Left untreated, bacteria involved with dental disease can cause infection to spread to other areas of the body such as the heart, kidneys, and liver.

Diagnosis of dental disease can be made at the time of a physical examination but the true extent of the disease cannot be fully determined until the pet is under anesthesia. Anesthesia is required to fully examine, probe, radiograph, clean, and polish the teeth. While there is always a risk with any anesthetic agent, there is also risk associated with delaying proper dental care. At our hospital, we will perform tests prior to anesthesia to try to detect any health problems that might affect your pet while under anesthesia. We also use modern anesthetics and extensive monitoring equipment during the procedure.

Prior to diagnosis of dental disease or after a dental cleaning, several preventative measures can be used to aid in oral hygiene. Just like humans, it is important for pets to receive daily oral care. Special toothbrushes and flavored pet safe toothpastes are available. If your pet does not tolerate daily tooth brushing, OraVet chews are an excellent alternative. The mechanical force of chewing the OraVet chew will help loosen and dislodge plaque. Unlike other dental treats, OraVet chews contain the active ingredient delmopinol which disrupts the plaque matrix and helps form a protective barrier on the teeth. Contact us for more information on special promotions that may be available for OraVet chews. Another option is a prescription tartar control dry diet. It will not clean the teeth but it can prolong the amount of time between professional cleanings.

If you have had a discussion with Dr. Powell or Dr. Horstmann about your pet’s dental health and are concerned, call us today to schedule. If you are not sure, call us to discuss and evaluate your situation further. Dental disease is way more common than you would think, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us!