Tooth Decay and Periodontal Disease

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is disease of the tissue that support and anchor the teeth.

Does my pet have dental disease?

It may be difficult for an owner to determine if their pet does have dental disease. Some common symptoms include bad breath, loose teeth, dribbling, yellow/brown pigmented teeth, difficulty eating, bleeding gums, rubbing at its mouth, or a swollen face.

How did it get there?

Every animal, including us, has a normal growth of bacteria in their mouths. We have the advantage of being able to brush and floss our teeth as often and needed in order to keep these bacteria at bay. However, our pets need help in order to accomplish the same result you and I enjoy. Without regular brushing plaque starts to form , which is a transparent adhesive fluid composed of saliva, food particles, and bacteria. Plaque can form in only 12 hours after a dental cleaning in our dogs and cats. Dogs who produce excessive saliva have been shown to build plaque more quickly. If plaque is not removed by daily brushing, the mineral salts in saliva will precipitate and form dental tartar. The tartar inflames the gums and allows bacteria to grow and cause further inflammation. This inflammation causes swelling of the gums that traps more bacteria below the gum line. The bacteria damages the attachment of the gums to the teeth and eventually leads to destruction of the bone and the tooth falls out.

What are the risks involved with periodontal disease?

Dental disease is not only harmful to the actual gums and surrounding of the mouth. It has also been linked to other organs in the body. The bacterium causes an infection in the mouth. The mouth is highly vascularized and allows the infection to travel throughout the body. The infection can end up in the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs in the body. The importance of healthy mouth is far more than tooth deep.

What animals are at higher risks?

High risk animals include small breed dogs, animals that eat soft foods, and dogs with retained puppy teeth. Small breed animals have a smaller mouth causing the space between each tooth to be nearer. The closeness between teeth is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria to flourish. Small pieces of food often get trapped in those areas enhancing the bacteria’s rate of growth.

Can it be cured?

The only cure is prevention. If your pet already has tartar build up, gingivitis, or a painful mouth, the only remedy is to consult with a veterinarian and find the best way to approach the problem. This may include a general dental cleaning using an ultra sonic scaler, and polishing of the teeth. This routine is the same idea that we would go through for our regular dental cleaning. In some instances, teeth may need to be taken out due to the severity of the disease. How can I prevent my pet from getting dental disease?

There are many ways to prevent periodontal disease for your pet. The best way is to the brush your animal’s teeth at least every other day. Although it may seem like a chore it is the best preventative health care for dental disease. One alternative is a water additive that is odorless and tasteless to your pet. In addition, there are oral care treats and foods that aid in a healthy dental hygiene for your pet.

Owners may find it difficult to find the time to commit to this task, and will attempt it once a week or month. In addition, sometimes there is a struggle to keep the animal still. Do not force your pet; try to make it as enjoyable as possible. Easing into brushing should begin with a piece of gauze wrapped around your index finger, and gently rub along the most frontal part of your pets’ mouth. Gently stroke the teeth and gums, allowing the pet to be comfortable with the process. Remember to praise and give treats to ensure your pet is enjoying the process too. Every day, try to get the animal comfortable with you touching its’ mouth, each day reach further inside the mouth until you can eventually rub the most back part of their teeth. In addition, gradually change from a piece of gauze to a finger brush to increase effectiveness.

Dental Vaccine

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80 percent of dogs have signs of oral disease by age three. Signs your pet may have dental problems is often indicated by bad breath, a change in eating or chewing habits, and pawing at the face and mouth. The Porphyromonas vaccine, from Pfizer Animal Health, is approved for the vaccination of healthy dogs to aid in the prevention of periodontitis.