Around 80% of our pets over the age of 3 suffer from dental disease. You may notice your pet has bad breath, struggles to eat efficiently, or has inflamed gums. Dental disease can range from mild tartar build up, to severe gum recession, tooth root exposure, root abscessation and the potential for bacteria to enter the blood stream. Dental disease starts with bacteria laden plaque building up on surface of teeth. This plaque takes approximately 24 hours to become hardened tartar. If the teeth are not regularly cleaned, tartar quickly builds up. The bacteria that survive in this mess of plaque and tartar cause bad breath and gingitivits (inflamed gums). The gums begin to recede away from the tartar. If the tartar is not removed and this process is allowed to continue, tooth root exposure develops, the teeth become rotten and tooth extractions are often required.
As with all diseases, prevention is better than a cure. The foundation for prevention in most households is a suitable diet. Daily mechanical abrasion helps remove soft plaque before it becomes hard tartar. There are a number of other ways to achieve this daily cleaning including; brushing, wiping, dental chews, and enzyme based mouth washes. Often the best outcomes are achieved by simply feeding a veterinarian recommended dental diet. There are a number of dental diets on the market today. Unlike your standard dry food, the size, shape and matrix of the kibble is designed to maximise contact with the tooth from the crown to the gums, helping to remove plaque and tartar.
If your pet is prone to dental disease, gets smelly breath or eats a diet that is predominantly made up of soft or wet food, a 6 monthly dental check up with your local veterinarian is highly recommended. This August is dental month at Petfocus Vetcare, so it’s a good opportunity to pop in to see us for your pet’s complimentary dental assessment to help keep them healthy, happy and smiling.
Written by Dr Alice Edwards BVSc