Are you holding your breath when your pet greets you every evening? This could be a sign your pet is in need of dental care.
Smelly breath can be a sign to tell us there may be more serious problems happening in your pet’s mouth, including: gingivitis, tooth root abscess and more seriously, internal organ diseases. Your pet’s teeth are the gateway to a happy, healthy lifestyle & it's just as important that we keep their teeth clean, as it is with ours.
Many animals, as they advance in age, develop a layer of plaque on their teeth. This hardens in combination with minerals present in saliva to become a solid layer over the tooth called calculus or tartar. Bacteria are present in both plaque and tartar and they produce enzymes, which lead to inflammation of the surrounding gums - gingivitis. With time, this problem can lead to infection around the ligament that holds the tooth in place. This condition, periodontitis, can eventually lead to loss of support for the tooth and loose teeth or tooth loss.
Although this scenario sounds rather drastic, periodontal disease affects more than half of pets over the age of 4 years, making it one of the most common problems we encounter. Dogs and cats are remarkable as they will generally continue to eat well even if they experience severe dental disease and pain.
Another common dental issue is resorptive lesions in cats, which is similar to cavities in people and can be very painful because of exposure of the sensitive inner part of the tooth.
Dentistry for pets is a very common, routine procedure. All dentistry is completed under anaesthetic. We perform multiple dentals every day on all kinds of pets, including exotic animals.
Generally, a dental includes scaling the teeth to remove the tartar and plaque (we do this with an ultrasonic scaler much like our dentists use on us!) and then we polish the teeth to make them nice & shiny. However, not all pets are so lucky - if left too long, often they will need one or more teeth removed. During dental procedures we are able to utilise our dental x-rays to get a good understanding of what is happening with the roots of the teeth & then create a customised plan from this point, for each individual patient.
To avoid dental disease there are a number of strategies that can be helpful:
- Special dental kibbles (e.g Hills T/D or Royal Canin Dental diet) – these can be fed as a complete diet or incorporated/mixed into your pet’s current diet.
- Good old manual teeth brushing – This depends on how compliant your pet is. We are not so naïve to think that all pets will allow us to brush their teeth, but for the ones that will, it's certainly considered our gold standard treatment option.
- Dental treats – eg. DentaStix, OroVet Chews, Greenies etc
- Supplements to help reduce plaque buildup– e.g Plaque-off or Aquadent
We have a variety of dental tricks & treats to show you in the clinic, so feel free to chat to one of our nurses about what changes you can make to your pets dental health. Most of these lifestyle changes are beneficial when starting with a clean and healthy mouth which is why it's a good idea to begin the routine from a young age. If your pet is older we would advise a dental firstly, and then starting afresh with a daily dental routine to keep those teeth sparkling.
Some breeds are more susceptible to developing dental issues & it's a good idea to discuss with a vet your options for keeping those teeth shiny white!
If your pet’s mouth is smelly, or if they struggle to eat their kibble, or if you have any concerns at all about their oral hygiene, then come in for a check-up with our vets. We promise more yummy treats than our human dentists!