Does your pet have bad breath? Do you avoid having your pet’s face near yours? When last did you look in your pet’s mouth? It might be time to book your pet in for a dental!

Pet owners need to know that oral health does impact general health. Unfortunately pets with poor oral health often have other problems as oral disease can result in general health problems. Kidney, heart, liver and other diseases have been associated with the bacteria that is present in periodontal disease. (Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease that affects the soft and hard structures that support the teeth). Recently research has linked periodontal diseases to other chronic inflammatory conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Thus, treating the inflammation and bacteria associated with periodontal disease may not only help manage that, but also help with the management of other chronic inflammatory diseases.

Periodontal disease starts out as a bacterial film called plaque. When the bacteria that has attached to the teeth die they can become calcified by calcium that is present in the saliva. This hard-rough substance called calculus, or tartar, allows more plaque to accumulate. Plaque bacteria occur on the tooth surface and are abnormally resistant to the pet’s immune defence and antibiotic medications. It can lead to swelling and severe pain, but often goes unnoticed. If unrecognised and left untreated this can be very painful for pets.  Usually tooth loss and bad oral odour are indications of this disease. If this is left untreated it is possible for the infection to spread through the blood stream, which is completely preventable.

There are two stages in periodontal disease, namely gingivitis and periodontitis. In the initial stage the inflammation is confined to the gums and is reversible, this stage is known as gingivitis. A thorough teeth cleaning and daily brushing can reverse this inflammation.

The second and more severe stage is known as periodontitis. This is a severe infection of the tissues that support the teeth. The more severe this gets, the greater the likelihood that the teeth will smell bad and fall out.

We hope to prevent, control and treat periodontal disease with first-rate dental care. Bad breath may be due to periodontal disease and is a good indication that it’s time for a check-up at the vet. Your vet can perform an oral exam and then if necessary a teeth cleaning, any extractions of rotten teeth, and diagnostic tests if needed. The diagnosis will then determine the treatment for your pet.

According to a study done in 1970 at the University of Minnesota: College of Veterinary Medicine, periodontal disease is the most common of all problems in companion animals. By 3 years of age roughly 70% of cats and 80% of dogs have some form of this disease.

Teeth cleanings performed by a vet or vet nurse will effectively remove plaque bacteria and calculus that is the cause of periodontal disease. Regular dentals and brushing your pet’s teeth regularly will help keep the teeth free from plaque and in turn help to prevent periodontal disease.