What causes dental disease?
The most common cause of dental disease in pets is due to plaque and calculus accumulation. As in humans, pets accumulate bacterial plaque on the surface of their teeth. If the plaque is not removed quickly, it becomes mineralized to form tartar or calculus. The bacterial products and decaying food stuck to tartar are one potential cause of bad breath.
Tartar is easily identified by its tan or brown colour – it normally starts at the gum edge, especially on the back teeth (premolars & molars). In severe cases it may cover the entire tooth.
The accumulation of tartar and bacteria on the tooth surface leads to infection and gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). If the disease is caught at an early stage and a thorough veterinary dental scaling and polishing performed, most of the teeth and gums will have a full recovery. However, if gingivitis is allowed to persist untreated, then irreversible periodontal disease will occur. During this process the bone and ligaments that support the tooth are destroyed leading to excessive tooth mobility and eventual tooth loss. Infection around the socket causes the formation of pus and a foul odor and may spread deep into the tooth socket creating an abscess, or even more severe problems.
Once periodontal disease starts, the degenerative changes cannot be reversed. These changes make it easier for more plaque and tartar to collect, resulting in further disease.
Oral disease is one of the most common, yet serious health problems in veterinary medicine – affecting 80% of dogs and 70% of cats by age three.
If neglected, oral disease can cause significant pathology and pain and will have a profound affect on your pet’s quality of life.
Studies have shown that our pets feel dental pain in the same way and to the same degree as we do but they are very good at hiding this pain. Evolution has taught our pets to hide their pain. In the wild, an animal seen as being weak or distressed stands little chance of survival. They often continue to eat despite the pain and will often act normally.
Pets do not always tell you when they are feeling poorly, but they will let you know when they are feeling better. Very often, when a “bad mouth” is rehabilitated the pet will seem brighter and more energetic or playful and will eat better.
Contact us for a dental assessment for your pet!