Oral health is an important and much overlooked component of pet health. Some studies have even suggested regular dental care extends our pet’s lives by 2 years. Here is a list of common questions and facts regarding dental disease.
1) What does oral disease look like? Tartar accumulation on the teeth, red/inflamed gums, fractured teeth, and odor to the breath are the most noticeable signs.
2) Most dental disease is invisible. Periodontal disease is a process that occurs under the gum line. This is characterized by infection and tartar developing around the tooth which affects attachment to the bone. As more accumulates, the attachment becomes less and less and eventually, the tooth becomes loose.
3) What is resorptive disease? Cats have a unique condition in which their teeth degrade into bone. This is typically a very painful condition as the nerve of the tooth (pulp cavity) is exposed. Most of the time, we are unable to see this disease without taking radiographs (x-rays). Sometimes redness of the gum is the only visible clinical sign. Most cats will not overtly show any sign of pain unless it is very severe. There are many theories as to why they develop these lesions; however, we do know genetics does play a role.
4) Broken or cracked teeth are significant causes of pain and chronic infection. When the tooth is broken at the level of the nerve, bacteria immediately invades. These teeth are painful and can lead to abscesses. Chronically infected teeth can cause problems throughout the whole body. Think about it, every bite spreads bacteria directly into the bloodstream!
5) What are signs of oral pain? Most animals will not show signs of pain. Drooling, difficulty chewing, anorexia, spitting food out of mouth, pawing at the face, weight loss, and acutely foul smelling breath are all potential signs of oral pain.
6) What can I do at home? Brushing the teeth daily (or at least 3 times per week) is truly the best prevention. Some pets will not allow brushing, dental rawhide chews and treats like Greenies are a good option for these pets.
Preventative oral care is not only healthier, but also spares our pets from pain and chronic infection in the future. Help your pet smile better today!
- Dr. Jennifer Watson
Please view our video walking you through A Dog's Day at the Heritage Pet Hospital Dentist. Starring.....Teddy!