Do you brush your pet’s teeth every day? Have you noticed foul smelling breath coming from your furry best friend?
Your pet most likely has dental disease! This is the most common clinical condition that we see in adult cats and dogs, but here is the best bit: it is entirely preventable.
Unfortunately, bad breath is seen as a fairly normal thing for animals to have, so dental disease often goes unnoticed. This can lead to more severe symptoms (and even health problems) that often require a more in depth solution.
Other signs of dental disease can be drooling, seeming to be in pain when eating and sore red gums.
Dental disease begins with plaque, a light yellow substance that you can see on your pets teeth. It is formed by a combination of food particles, saliva and bacteria (that are naturally present in the mouth). At this stage, plaque is quite easily removed manually (we will explain more about this below) but due to food, saliva and bacteria always being present, it inevitably builds up every day.
The key is to prevent it from building up to the stage of tartar or calculus. Tartar or calculus (don’t worry, we aren’t asking you to revisit highschool maths!) occurs when the minerals in the saliva harden and build up over time, to form a thick brown crust over the tooth’s surface.
This tartar can affect the surrounding gum, leading to gingivitis, which in turn leads to loss of structure around the tooth.
At this stage, the only way to get rid of this build up is with a general anaesthetic, scale and polish, with extractions as a possibility.
Luckily, if your pet needs extractions, the gums will generally heal quite quickly as they have a good blood supply.
If your pet just has a small amount of plaque build up, you are sometimes able to scrub it off with a plastic toothbrush. This is considered gold standard in dental care, as owners should ideally be brushing their pet’s teeth daily- although we understand it can be quite challenging!
We also sell great products that can be used as a preventative measure.
The following products can be used to help prevent the build up of plaque before it turns into irreversible calculus:
Plaque off (a powder made from seaweed extract that you add to food)
Aquadent and Hexarinse (liquids you add to your pet’s everyday drinking water)
Flavoured toothpaste (specially formulated for animals – do not use human toothpaste)
Hills Science Diet t/d biscuits– a specially formulated dry dental food that actually scrapes plaque off teeth as the pet crunches through the biscuits. This food is great as it replicates the motions of tooth brushing without actually having to brush their teeth!
All these products are available over the counter. If you have any concerns please book in for a dental consultation with one of our friendly Vets.