Cavities are quite a rare occurrence in pets, largely due to the fact that their diet contains far less sugar than our own. However, there is one oral health problem that is extremely common among our pets and it is known as dental disease. Dental disease is obvious in around 1 in 3 pets by their third birthday, and is a leading cause of visits to pet dentists in Montgomery, AL.
Dental disease, also referred to as periodontal disease, periodontitis and gingivitis, is a condition that is characterized by inflammation of the gum tissue. It is primarily caused when plaque that accumulates on the faces of your pet’s teeth due to poor oral hygiene begins to spread on to the gums. Unfortunately, the symptoms of dental disease are fairly subtle at first, making them easy to ignore or overlook.
What are the symptoms of dental disease in pets?
Our animals can’t tell us what is wrong when they are in pain or feel unwell. They also naturally try to hide it from us and other animals around them – an instinctive act that prevents them from appearing vulnerable. Nevertheless, the earlier that dental disease is diagnosed, the more likely you are to be able to successfully secure treatment for your pet that will prevent irreversible damage to his teeth and general health and wellbeing.
Some of the key signs of dental disease in pets include:
- Foul breath
- Gums that look red, swollen and sore
- Obvious pain
- Pawing/rubbing his mouth
- Gums that bleed / spotting blood in his food or water bowls
- Loss of appetite
- Dropping food when eating
- Dark yellow / brown teeth
The importance of prompt treatment for dental disease
If your pet is diagnosed with dental disease, the first thing that your pet dentist in Montgomery, AL will talk to you about is to how to prevent the condition from getting any worse. This is important because dental disease is a progressive problem, and left without any attempt at managing it, it will spread and cause further issues and irreversible damage to your pet’s teeth and overall health. Studies have shown that animals that are diagnosed with dental disease are considerably more likely to also be diagnosed with other chronic health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney and liver problems and respiratory infections. This is because the bacteria causing the dental disease can eventually enter your pet’s blood and use his circulatory system to reach other parts of his body, including his heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and more.
What treatments are available for pet dental disease?
There are various ways in which you can treat and even reverse the effects of periodontal disease, but the sooner the problem is identified and treatment is started, the better the outcome is likely to be for your pet. Exactly what treatment will be recommended will depend on how advanced your pet’s dental disease is.
Boosting your pet’s daily oral healthcare routine
Initially, your pet dentist will recommend that you ramp up the level of attention you are paying to your pet’s oral hygiene routine at home. Brushing daily should be part of your routine as this will help to reduce the level of plaque that causes dental disease to occur. A small, soft-bristled, round-headed toothbrush is ideal, and this should be used alongside a toothpaste that is formulated especially for your pet. Never, ever use human varieties since they contain ingredients that are toxic to animals. You should also ensure that you provide your pet with chew toys since they increase his natural production of saliva which helps to combat dental bacteria.
Attending professional dental cleans
Regular, professional dental cleans are also an important part of pet dentistry and can prove vital in protecting your pet’s teeth from dental disease since they offer a clean that is superior to anything you can do at home. Most pet dentists recommend that animals attend at least one professional dental clean per year, although if your furbaby has very poor condition teeth, this may be increased to 6-monthly. Professional cleans are performed using a general anesthesia which means that your pet is perfectly still, and this makes the process all the more beneficial as the level of risk to your pet is reduced.
Antibiotics can be helpful in tackling infection and reducing inflammation in the gum tissue. Ensure that you administer the antibiotics exactly as described and finish the course.
If your pet is found to have advanced dental disease, the treatments that are needed to preserve his teeth and health may be more invasive, such as gum grafting or bone grating. Your pet dentist will be happy to talk you through your options so that you can decide which is most suitable based on the individual needs of your animal.
If your pet has dental disease and you would like to find out more about what treatments are available, our dedicated pet dentistry team would be delighted to share their expertise with you. To schedule your appointment, please contact our veterinarians in Montgomery, AL or Pike Road, AL today at 334-259-3900 or 334-279-0500.