All Pets Veterinary Clinic
If you are like many dog and cat owners, you probably do not pay much attention to your
pet's teeth and gums. Perhaps you should, because many of the dogs and cats seen daily
at veterinary clinics have a serious amount of dental disease going on in their mouths.
What you see. Some of the signs of dental disease include a brownish covering on
the surface of the tooth, called calculus, reddened gums, receding gum line (gives the
tooth the appearance of being longer), bad breath, excessive salivation, possible facial
swellings, reluctance to eat hard foods, and pawing at the mouth or face.
What this can cause. Aside from the obvious discomfort a mouth full of bad teeth
can cause, it has been proven that diseased teeth can cause heart, liver, and kidney
problems as well. How is this possible? In serious dental conditions, there are high
numbers of bacteria present in the mouth. These bacteria are constantly "showered" to
the rest of the body. If this happens, the bacteria can end up anywhere--but most likely,
the heart, liver, and kidneys.
What you can do. For advanced dental disease, the best option is to have a
dental cleaning done for your pet. Since most animals will not remain still enough
for a thorough oral examination and dental cleaning, it is necessary to anesthetize
the animal before a dentistry can be done. Once under anesthesia, the mouth can be
fully opened and each tooth can be assessed. Any loose teeth or any teeth surrounded
by a large pocket of space in the gum will be removed. If these teeth are left, they
can be a continual source of problems for your pet. The teeth remaining will be cleaned,
most likely with an ultrasonic hand scalar. This instrument allows the calculus and
tartar to be removed from the surface of the teeth. Once this is finished, all of the
teeth will be polished. Polishing will smooth the surface of the tooth, and thus make
it harder for bacteria to adhere. When this is finished, the pet's mouth will be rinsed
and the animal will be allowed to recover from anesthesia.
After a dentistry is done, tartar and calculus can occur again if something is not done
for prevention. There are many options for the prevention of dental disease. The first
option is to brush your pet's teeth with a toothbrush and specially formulated pet
toothpaste. Many animals will not tolerate this if they are not used to it. Thus,
this is probably not the best option for all animals. This is, however, a good option
if you have a young dog or puppy. A second option for prevention of dental disease is
the use of an oral cleansing gel or rinse solution. Gels are designed to be applied
to the teeth on a daily basis. Rinse solutions are used to flush the mouth out daily.
These options, if used faithfully, can be an excellent way to prevent tartar build up.
They can also be used in between regular brushings. The third option is the use of
special foods or chews designed to minimize tartar accumulation. Hills makes a
prescription diet called t/d. This food helps to strip the tartar and calculus off
of the affected teeth. While this food works best if fed alone, it can also be mixed
with the regular food or fed throughout the day as a treat. Recently, the IAMS Company
has reformulated their Eukanuba line to include a dental defense system that will aid
in the prevention of tartar.
Check out our online store for TONS of dental health products for your pet! See link below.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not
intended to take the place of your regular veterinarian. Please do not hesitate
to contact your regular veterinarian if you have questions regarding your pet.
Karen Blakeley, DVM, MPH
27 September 2009