Periodontal (gum) disease is very common in cats and dogs over 3 years of age. Bad breath, loosened teeth, red swollen gums, tartar accumulation and appetite loss are signs of dental disease. Disease develops when food, bacteria and saliva accumulate and adhere to the teeth surface as plaque. As buildup continues, the soft plaque becomes hard tartar. Tartar build-up leads to gum inflammation and infection. The bacteria in plaque can enter the bloodstream through the gums and cause certain heart and kidney infections.
Dental prophylaxis is done under general anesthesia to allow a thorough oral exam and cleaning of the teeth above and below the gum-line. Scaling of the teeth to remove tartar is done with both hand and ultrasonic cleaning equipment. The teeth are then polished to smooth the surface making them more resistant to plaque formation. Any loose or infected teeth can be extracted. Oral antibiotics are sometimes prescribed depending on the presence and severity of infection.
Tips for Good Oral Hygiene:
Feed dry food to provide cleaning action.
Have your pet’s teeth examined yearly.
Remove plaque daily by brushing your pet’s teeth. For the first few days, gently stroke the outside of your pet’s cheeks with your finger for a couple of minutes. Reward your pet with a small treat and praise him/her at the end of each session. For the next few days open your pet’s mouth and run your finger around the lips, teeth and gums. Don’t forget to reward your pet. Once your pet is comfortable with this, use a wet cloth wrapped around a finger or wet toothbrush to gently brush the outer surfaces of the teeth for 30-60 seconds. Each day gradually increase the number of teeth brushed and the time spent brushing. Flavored pet toothpastes are available.
Dogs can be fed Prescription Diet t/d instead of brushing. The oversized kibble gently scrubs the surface of your dog’s teeth as they chew.
If your pet does not tolerate brushing, use an oral cleansing product such as Nolvadent daily.