Dental disease is one of the most common problems in our pets. Up to 80% of dogs and cats in the UK will suffer with some form of dental disease throughout their life. It is a source of discomfort and pain and many owners are unaware their pet has dental disease. Some animals may be reluctant to open their mouth or have their teeth looked at. Others may have difficulty chewing or eating, sometimes leading to weight loss. Owners of older animals may feel the slowing down of their pet is related to old age, when actually it is related to dental disease. Once the dental disease is addressed many owners report a new lease of life in their pet!
Without regular dental hygiene plaque can build up on the teeth leading to tartar and calculus deposits on the teeth. Tartar appears as brown deposits covering the surface of the tooth and between teeth. This causes bad breath, increased numbers of bacteria within the mouth and progresses to inflammation of the gums (gingivitis).
Once the gums become inflamed pockets can appear around the teeth damaging the ligament that holds the tooth within its socket. Once this ligament becomes damaged, the teeth loosen and may fall out or become infected. This can also lead to bacteria within the mouth gaining access to the bloodstream and seeding elsewhere in the body such as the heart, liver and kidneys.
There are many ways that dental disease can be prevented and it is important to introduce dental hygiene techniques gently and gradually so that your pet becomes confidently accustomed to you regularly checking their mouth. Getting a new puppy or kitten used to having their mouth examined is an important part of their upbringing.
Diet can play an important role in maintaining a healthy mouth with many tartar control diets available. Tartar control diets work by gripping the tooth and causing abrasion to aid in removal of plaque from the surface of the tooth. Dental chews are available to help in plaque and tartar removal as well as being a great source of pleasure to most dogs. The action of chewing releases endorphins (the feel good hormones) and can help your pet relax.
Dental hygiene sprays and rinses can help prevent plaque by reducing the number of bacteria within your pet’s mouth. As well as reducing plaque these also help to freshen your pet’s breath!
Brushing the teeth regularly is the best method to keep your pet’s teeth in good condition. Enzymatic toothpastes are available that can be rubbed around the teeth and gums with either your finger or a specially designed brush to keep the teeth and gums clean. As well as cleaning the teeth, brushing enables you to regularly see inside your pet’s mouth and will enable you to check for any changes.
Dental procedures are carried out almost every day at Mount Vets. We have a full range of ultrasonic scalers and polishers, dental instruments, air driven dental equipment and dental x-ray facilities.