The Perils of Pet Dental Disease

pet dental diseaseIs your dog or cat over 4 years of age? Did you know that by the time our pets reach that age, 85% of them have some form of dental disease, also known as periodontal disease? What causes this problem, and what can we do to keep our pets in the other 15% of this statistic?

Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates unfortunately sees our fair share of dental disease. We’re here with some pet dental disease basics, as well as to help you learn more about how to prevent periodontal disease in dogs and cats.

Pet Dental Disease Basics

What exactly is dental disease, and what causes it? Plaque, caused by bacteria, accumulates on the teeth and at the gum line. Within days, minerals in the saliva bond with the plaque to form tartar. The bacteria that cling to this dental calculus can then work their way under the gum line, causing inflammation called gingivitis.

If gingivitis is not controlled, it can progress to periodontitis. In periodontitis, bacteria destroy the connecting and underlying tooth structures, including the root and even the bone below. Bacteria can also be absorbed into the bloodstream and cause problems with internal organs, including the heart, liver, and kidneys.

In addition to gingivitis and periodontitis, cats can have another dental problem called tooth resorption. This common and painful condition requires specific treatment to keep it under control. Your veterinarian can evaluate these issues and recommend a dental plan that will minimize pain and discomfort for your cat.

Know the Signs

Dental disease is usually silent when it begins, because our pets are so good at hiding pain and discomfort. Many of the early signs of dental disease are easily missed at home, which is why it’s so important to have regular dental assessments as a part of your pet’s annual wellness exam. Below are some signs of dental disease, from the early to later stages of the disease:

  • Bad breath
  • Swollen or bleeding gums
  • Difficulty chewing (which may manifest as messy eating)
  • Pawing at mouth
  • Drooling
  • Facial swelling
  • Broken or loose teeth

What You Can Do About Dental Disease

As we mentioned, the good news is that pet dental disease is largely preventable. So, let’s talk about what you can do to help make sure your pet doesn’t suffer unnecessarily.

Because the signs of pet dental disease are subtle in the beginning, a preventive care plan is in order. Talk to your veterinarian at your pet’s next appointment about dental health. We may recommend a program of annual professional dental cleanings, coupled with at-home dental care, to prevent plaque and tartar from causing major problems.

Please give us a call with any questions about pet dental care and to schedule an appointment for a dental exam. We’re looking forward to helping give your furry friend a lifetime of good dental hygiene and health.