|This is what the normal teeth and gums should look like|
The cause of the problem begins when plaque begins to build up on the surface of the teeth. Plaque is made up of a mixture of sticky mucous like substances and bacteria. Plaque begins to form on the teeth within 2 DAYS after a professional dental scaling and polishing. If the plaque is not removed it will continue to harden and form tartar. Tartar is rough and is irriatating to the gums and changes the environment of the mouth allowing bacteria to creep underneath the gum tissue to live and grow. These bacteria produce by-products that destroy the tissues that surround and hold the tooth in place. The end result is a loose tooth that is often lost. In addition to lost teeth the bacterial growth can lead to abscesses (pockets of pus build up). The chronic inflammation of the mouth can affect the entire body as it is constantly fighting off the infection in the mouth.
All this inflammation and destruction of tissues is painful. Most pets won't show you any obvious signs that their mouth is sore because it has been a chronic problem they have learned to live with. The graphic above shows signs to look for. In my experience bad breath and yellow or brown tartar are the most common signs. If your pet is having difficulty eating this is a sign the dental disease is very severe! Don't rely on your pet to tell you if they have dental disease. Instead look at their teeth and gums yourself or ask your vet or a veterinary technician to take a look for you if you aren't sure what to look for.
So what is the solution to this dental disease epidemic? Certainly once dental disease has become advanced a professional scaling and polish with possible tooth extractions is required. However, as you read above, plaque begins to build up again within 2 days of our professional cleaning. This means that home care for teeth is essential for preventing the dental disease from quickly returning. Home care can take many forms. The gold standard is daily tooth brushing. We offer free demonstrations of tooth brushing to help owners get on the right track. The dental diets also offer excellent benefits with larger kibble sizes to scrape up against the tooth to remove plaque. Some dental diets also contain special ingedients to prevent plaque from calcifying into tartar. Water additives and dental chews can also be added to compliment brushing or dental diets but are unlikely to be enough on their own to prevent dental disease.
Now that you know the basics of dental disease in pets don't hesitate to get started on a home-care regimen. If you need help or have any questions call, e-mail or drop by the clinic!