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FACTS:

Periodontal disease affects 85% of adult pets and is one of the most common conditions seen by veterinarians

One milligram of plaque contains over one trillion potentially disease causing bacteria!

Dental disease is a significant oral health problem in dogs and cats.  It can cause foul odor to the breath, oral pain, tooth loss, and may have significant effects on other body systems. 

In the early stages of accumulation, the material is soft (plaque) and hardens to to create tartar or calculus. Continual accumulation causes inflammation of the gums and eventual recession of the gums and tooth loss.  The mouth becomes a dangerous source of infection at this stage. 

The high bacterial counts in the mouth leads to repeated respiratory infections and further travel through the bloodstream to affect the heart, kidneys, and liver. Studies show that by age 3, 80% of dogs exhibit signs of periodontal disease!  Small breed dogs are more likely than large breeds to develop periodontal disease and usually need more frequent cleanings. As for cats, tooth lesions are very common.  28% of domestic cats develop at least one of these painful lesions during their lifetime. 

We can prevent this!  If dental disease is addressed promptly, the early stages of gingivitis can be treated and the condition reversed. However if allowed to progress, irreversible periodontitis can occur along with chronic infection, which can enter the bloodstream and may damage the kidneys, liver and heart. 

Signs and symptoms that your pet may have periodontal disease:

  • persistent bad breath
  • sensitivity around the mouth
  • pawing at the mouth
  • loss of appetite
  • bleeding or inflammed gums
  • loose or missing teeth
  • difficulty eating and chewing food 

We recommend brushing your pet's teeth at least once weekly. Start brushing at an early age, feed dry foods, and provide rawhide or hard rubber or nylon chew toys. 

You can also be proactive and provide your pet with a dental cleaning (like we schedule with our dentist) as tartar accumulates to prevent the dental disease from getting any worse. Again, small breeds and some cats will need dental cleanings more often. 

Dental terms used by your veterinarian:

  • Gingivitis - inflammation of gingival tissues.
  • Calculus accumulation - calculus (tartar) tightly adheres to the tooth surface and cannot be removed with brushing.  Most important is the tartar that accumulates under the gum-line that is not evident on examination.
  • Periodontitis - gingival recession, bone loss, pulp (nerve) exposure and loose teeth are all signs of advanced disease.
  • Halitosis - bad breath is often a sign of advanced periodontal disease.
  • Tooth resorption - painful, especially noted in cats, requires immediate attention.
  • Oral enlargements or tumors - anesthesia is required for closer examination and may need biopsied.