Dental Disease

Dental disease is a very common pet health problem. Like humans, dogs and cats are susceptible to gum disease, tooth decay, oral tumors and other dental problems. In fact, 70 to 80 percent of dogs and cats show some sign of oral disease by the time they are 3 years old. This is a serious pet health problem because dental disease affects more than just the mouth. In addition to causing severe pain, untreated dental disease can lead to problems in other body systems including the heart, kidneys and lungs.

Dental Disease

How it Affects your pet

Periodontal disease, the most common canine and feline dental disease, begins when plaque, a bacteria-containing film, attaches to the surfaces of the teeth. As the bacteria in the film die, they become mineralized due to contact with saliva. Mineralized bacteria form a hard substance called tartar. Tartar increases the surface area to which bacteria can attach, and more plaque and tartar form. If left untreated, plaque and tartar spread below the gum line. They cause inflammation and increase the risk of infection around the roots of the teeth. In advanced stages of periodontal disease, severe infections and tooth loss can occur, and bacteria can spread through the body to infect other organs. In addition to periodontal disease, dogs and cats suffer from other dental diseases. These include various types of oral cancer, cysts, congenital abnormalities, trauma, autoimmune disorders and others.

Common symptoms

Symptoms of dental disease vary widely. The best way to detect this pet disease is through regular veterinary oral exams. Some commonly noted symptoms include the following: Bad breath, Loose teeth, Changes in appetite, especially refusal to eat dry food, Discharge of blood or pus from the mouth, Excessive drooling, Bad temper, Lumps on the gums or under the tongue and Discolored teeth and gums.

Treatments

Possible treatments for dental disease include cleaning, extractions, root canal therapy and other procedures. All of these treatments require pets to be placed under general anesthesia. To reduce the risk of complications, pets must be healthy before undergoing anesthesia. To ensure a pet is healthy, the veterinarian must do basic blood work and perform a physical examination. Some groomers offer oral cleaning without sedation, but this is a cosmetic procedure and not a substitute for veterinary dental care. While brushing a pet’s teeth can help prevent serious dental disease, this must be done once or twice per day to be effective. 

Breeds Affected

Dogs and cats of all breeds suffer from dental disease, but this pet health problem tends to progress faster or be more severe in members of certain breeds than others. Dog breeds that tend to have more serious dental disease include the following: Dachshund, Toy poodle, Standard poodle, Yorkshire terrier, Pomeranian, Maltese, Papillion, Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Shetland sheepdog and Havanese. Cats from the following breeds are also at increased risk of developing severe dental disease: Abyssinian, Persian, Himalayan, Somali, British shorthair and Exotic shorthair.

Dental Disease Affects

  • Periodontal disease, the most common canine and feline dental disease, begins when plaque, a bacteria-containing film, attaches to the surfaces of the teeth. As the bacteria in the film die, they become mineralized due to contact with saliva. Mineralized bacteria form a hard substance called tartar. Tartar increases the surface area to which bacteria can attach, and more plaque and tartar form. If left untreated, plaque and tartar spread below the gum line. They cause inflammation and increase the risk of infection around the roots of the teeth. In advanced stages of periodontal disease, severe infections and tooth loss can occur, and bacteria can spread through the body to infect other organs. In addition to periodontal disease, dogs and cats suffer from other dental diseases. These include various types of oral cancer, cysts, congenital abnormalities, trauma, autoimmune disorders and others.

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