What is dental disease?:
Dental disease is caused by bacteria which attach to the teeth along with food, saliva and other material, forming a colourless film called plaque. Once this occurs bacteria can replicate and form colonies in your pet's mouth, irritating the gums and causing breakdown of the gum tissue, inflammation and bone loss. This is understandably very painful for your pet and will lead to the loss of teeth over time.
If left, the plaque will then calcify into tartar and further develop a hard crust called calculus.
What are the symptoms?:
In the early stages of dental disease there may be no symptoms. The first sign that owners generally notice is a foul odour coming from their pet's mouth.
The main signs of dental disease noticed by owners are:
Yellow-brown crust on teeth
Change in eating habit
Not wanting to be touched around the mouth or head
Dental disease does not just affect the mouth:
The irritated, bleeding gums allow bacteria from plaque to enter the bloodstream. This then travels throughout the body and can negatively impact vital organs such as the heart, kidney and liver.
What is done in dental procedure:
Once tartar and calculus has developed the only way to remove this is with an ultrasonic scaler which uses vibrations to clean the teeth and under the gums. Unfortunately, unlike humans, our pets don't let us do this while awake so general anaesthesia is required. While we are cleaning the teeth we will examine each individual tooth, putting a probe around the edge of each, checking for pockets where the gum may have come away from the tooth. We may also take x-rays of the teeth to visualise the roots and make a more accurate assessment of the health of each tooth. We identify any teeth that need extracting & generally perform the extraction process under the same anaesthetic.
Once all the teeth are cleaned and we are comfortable they are all healthy the teeth will be polished to flatten the surface, making bacteria and plaque less able to attach in the future.
The production of plaque is a natural process & combating dental disease is an ongoing process. After professional cleaning it is important to start measures to reduce the continuing build up of plaque. This involves home care such as feeding a dental diet which scrubs away plaque with every bite and brushing teeth with a pet toothpaste & brush. Chewing is also important for good dental health but we do not recommend feeding bones in any form. Choose products with the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of approval. For more information on how to brush your pet's teeth please click on one of the links below for our recommendations and tips.