Four out of five dogs and cats over the age of three years have some sort of dental disease. Dental disease affects a pet’s overall health and quality of life, and is just not pleasant for them.
The Australian Veterinary Association’s Pet Dental Month is held each August and aims to share with pet owners the benefits of annual dental health checks and preventative dental care.
What is dental disease? Plaque, just like the plaque we humans have, is the build-up of bacteria and saliva. The bacteria gradually produces acid which dissolves calcium from teeth and calcifies into tartar. The hardened tartar is usually close to the gum line. The mix of bacteria, toxin and saliva causes irritation and inflammation of the gum, or gingivitis, identifiable as a red rim on the gum around the tooth.
Teeth are held to the gum by the periodontal ligaments. When an inflammation is severe enough, it disrupts the periodontal ligaments and the tooth will become loose, this is called periodontal disease.
The only real way to assess whether a tooth needs to be removed is a combination of oral examination and probing each tooth, often with X-rays, just like human dentists do.
Owners often worry whether their dog or cat will have issues eating with less teeth but dogs and cats usually cope well with some missing teeth or even no teeth at all. It might just be that their tongue lolls out a bit. They can often swallow food without much chewing, with the digestive tract doing all the work.
The number one best way to help prevent dental disease is by brushing your dog or cat’s teeth each day. However, as this is unrealistic for some owners, there are a number of excellent oral health products that your vet can recommend from chews to special diets and supplements.
Uni Vets Camden is offering FREE dental health checks throughout the month of August. Call 02 4655 0777 to book an appointment. Please note the offer is for a dental check only, consultations regarding other conditions may incur additional fees.
Article by: Angel Ngo, 5th Year Veterinary Student, Uni Vets Camden