According to veterinary research, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of dental disease by the age of three. Furthermore, studies have also shown that untreated dental disease can reduce life expectancy by 20%.
So what causes dental disease?
The main cause of dental disease is inadequate chewing, which is what canine and feline teeth have evolved to do. Like us, our pet’s teeth also need cleaning to remove plaque and harmful bacteria from the surface of teeth and gums. Adequate chewing can help reduce this plaque and bacteria from forming. The use of certain bones, toys and proven dental diets can all help reduce dental disease.
There are now also some excellent products that help reduce the plaque and bacteria from building.
Some commonly used chewing options for dental disease treatment include:
- prescription dental diet such as ‘Science diet t/d’
- Treats such as – Greenies, Prozyem dentastix
- Chew toys such as rope bones, and other suitable toys (we have a selection of toys specifically chosen to help your cat and dogs’ teeth whilst being entertaining)
Our top tips for reducing plaque and bacteria
- DENTAL DIET (Prescription Hils t/d)
- ORAVET Dental Chews (coats the teeth in a special film to reduce plaque)
- HEALTHY MOUTH water additive (reduces Bacteria in the mouth)
Dental disease is a progressive condition that gets worse with time. It can be graded into several stages. Knowing what stage the teeth and gums are at can help determine the best course of treatment. Pictures and descriptions of the different stages are shown below.
Stage 1 Dental Disease
Initially there is build-up of food material on the tooth surface. When this material is soft, it can be easily removed with proper chewing of bones, toys or dental diets.
Smaller dogs and cats can benefit from bones such as chicken necks (raw). Larger dogs require larger bones (raw) to get the greatest benefit. If your cat or dog is not a big chewer of bones, there are specially formulated diets that are scientifically designed to help improve dental cleaning. Diets such as Hills Science Diet ‘t/d’ is an excellent choice, as it is a completely balanced diet, whilst also specially designed to clean teeth during every meal.
Stage 2 Dental Disease
Tartar and bacteria continues to build, and causes damage to the gum, causing redness, soreness and sometimes bleeding. This is called gingivitis. When gingivitis is present, a dental scale and clean is often required to remove the plaque and tartar.
Treatment: a minor dental cleaning procedure.
A cleaning procedure will scale away all tartar and plaque. Furthermore, if gingivitis is severe, a short course of antibiotics may also be prescribed to help speed up the healing process, and prevent spread of bacteria to the bloodstream.
Stage 3 & 4 Dental Disease
If the plaque and bacteria are left to site on the tooth surface, they mix with saliva in the mouth and calcify. This calcified material is called dental calculus. Dental calculi are very hard, and firmly attach to the tooth enamel. It is often during this stage that tooth decay starts, and progresses quite rapidly. In the worst cases, the bacteria cause damage to the bony structures surrounding the tooth, and can lead to tooth root abscess, or bone infections. This is very painful for your pet. By this stage, tooth extraction is required to prevent further complications and remove the source of pain.
Treatment: a major dental procedure, including tooth extraction.
An antibiotic course and additional pain relief will also be warranted to aid recovery.
Unfortunately, dental disease is not just localized to the mouth. Tartar and dental calculus can be the source of bacteria, which can seed off in to the bloodstream. The bacteria then spread to other areas of the body. The bacteria from the mouth can spread to organs including the heart (valves), liver and kidneys, and cause damage. Therefore, any grade of dental disease has the capacity to cause problems for our pets, and should be treated promptly.
Dental Cleaning at Brandon Park Vet Hospital
A dental cleaning procedure at Brandon Park Veterinary Hospital involves a short day procedure, as patients will require a general anaesthetic. Every patient receives pre-anaesthetic sedation, which also includes pain relief. If tooth extractions are required, additional pain relief will be administered on recovery. If several extractions are required, a short take home course of pain relief will also be prescribed for our pet. This dramatically speeds the healing process, and improves comfort levels when your pet goes home.
We have the same dental equipment that your dentist uses. An ultrasonic dental scaler is used for your pet’s teeth to remove the dental plaque, tartar, and hardened calculus that builds up over time. Teeth are assessed for signs of root decay and dental infections. Extractions are performed if the teeth are severely diseased, broken or damaged. Dental x-rays can also be performed. Healthy teeth are thoroughly cleaned above and below the gum line to improve dental health.
On completion of the cleaning process, all teeth are polished and receive a fluoride application. We are committed to ongoing dental care, and for that reason, every dental procedure includes two complimentary review visits.
- The week after the procedure. This ensures that healing is proceeding as normal.
- We also include a complimentary five week post dentistry review. At this visit with one of our qualified veterinary nurses, your pet’s teeth and gums will be reassessed. Recommendations will then be given to help reduce the chance of further problems and help ensure that your pet’s teeth and gums remain healthy for future years.