Do you notice a foul odor coming from your pets' mouth?
That bad breath could actually be a sign of underlying dental disease.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is defined as the destruction of bone, gum tissue, and structures that hold teeth in place. The disease starts when natural bacteria in the mouth form a material called plaque. This plaque then slowly begins to stick to the surface of the teeth. As time goes on the minerals in your pet's saliva harden the plaque into what is called tartar (dental calculus). This is the substance that fully adheres to the tooth's surface giving it a brown or yellow color. As terrible as that sounds, the real damage begins if the plaque and calculus reach above the gum line. Your pet may lose teeth!
Some signs that your pet may be affected by dental disease are included in the diagram shown. Pets may rub or paw at their mouth, have loose teeth, have difficulty eating, excessive drooling, bleeding gums, and bad breath.
Professional Dental Cleaning Is More than Just Using a Toothbrush!
How do you treat periodontal disease? The most common treatment of periodontal disease begins with a thorough oral exam, dental radiographs, dental scaling, and polishing. These procedures are done under anesthesia to keep the technician, doctor, and patient safe. With February being National Pet Dental Health Month most animal hospitals even offer a discount!
Dental scaling includes the use of an ultrasonic scaler that uses a combination of water and high-frequency vibration to remove the calculus from each tooth's surface. When the scaling is finished, the technician will then polish each tooth to remove grooves created by the scaler and to help prevent bacteria from adhering in the future.
The Importance of Oral Health
Oral health effects are not limited to the mouth. Research has shown that oral health stems to other organs within your pet's body such as the heart, liver, lungs, and kidneys. This occurs when the bacteria in the oral cavity is released into the circulatory system (blood) and travels through the body.
There are steps you can take as an owner to prevent periodontal disease. There are additives for your pet's water, oral rinses, and specialized toothpaste and brushes you can use to clean your pet's teeth at home. There are also specific diets and daily dental chews that come in various shapes and sizes.