Did you know that the most common dental disease in dogs and cats is periodontal disease? The problem starts when plaque which is made up of food particles and bacteria, builds up on the teeth and creates a space between the teeth and gums. Food gets trapped there, and an infection begins which wears away the bone that holds the teeth. The teeth eventually get loose and fall out. The process can take months to years to occur. During this time, the pet can be in severe discomfort and is exposed to the toxins created by the bacteria. Research has shown that periodontal disease can cause infection in the heart, kidneys, lungs, liver and brain. Once a pet has periodontal disease a dental cleaning is needed. This is accomplished by putting the pet under anesthesia and the tartar is removed and scraped from the periodontal pockets. Sometimes an antibiotic product is injected into the pockets to aid in healing and bacterial control. Many times the pocket will reattach to the teeth. If this does not occur, chronic treatment is needed. It is certainly best to have your pet on a preventative program.
Some breeds are more prone to periodontal disease. Especially small breeds and breeds with small snouts such as Pugs, Boston Terriers and Persian cats. However, any dog or cat can develop this problem.
The most effective way to prevent the damage caused by periodontal disease is to practice a regular program of brushing. This is the single most effective way to ensure a healthy mouth. The best way to brush your pet's teeth is with a small soft toothbrush or rubber finger brush. Many products are available to use for brushing and are individually tailored to meet your pets needs. Human toothpaste is not desirable because it is too foamy, the pets swallow it since they cannot spit and sometimes feel like they are choking. In addition the fluoride in toothpaste can be dangerous if ingested. Ideally you should brush your pet's teeth every day, but a minimum of three times a week is necessary to be effective.
In addition, certain chewing products are effective in reducing tartar. Our veterinarians can recommend those that we have found to work the best. Another excellent product is the Hills TD food which brushes an animals teeth as it eats.
Even pets which eat nothing but hard food may still get periodontal disease and need a dental cleaning. It sometimes takes a while to get your pet to enjoy having their teeth brushed. But the benefits are worth the time you spend.
Start improving your pet's overall health by improving their dental health. They will have a longer and more comfortable life. Schedule a visit at the Rutherford Animal Hospital for a dental exam where we will evaluate your pet's dental health and formulate a treatment or maintenance plan