Dental disease is one of the most common health problems in both dogs and cats. Just like humans, dogs and cats build up plaque on their teeth all through the day. If the plaque is left to accumulate and not removed via brushing, it calcifies into tartar and forms the hard buildup that is seen on your pet’s teeth.
The first stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis, which is the red line you can see on your pet’s gum line. Gingivitis simply means that the pet’s gums are swollen and inflammed from the plaque or bacteria that builds up on the teeth. This condition is reversible with the help of adequate home care and thorough dental cleaning. At this stage, veterinary doctors recommend that your pet’s teeth be cleaned.
Periodontal disease is usually caused by bacteria that builds up on the teeth, also known as plaque and tartar. Plaque spreads under the gum line, destroying the attachment between the gums and teeth, and this leads to loose teeth and bone loss. Periodontal usually occurs beneath the gum line, and it is invisible when looking into your pet’s mouth. The only way to see it is through dental x-rays and oral examination by a vet. During the oral examination, the vet places a film for dental x-rays in the pet’s mouth, which must be under a general anesthetic. When a vet is carrying out a dental cleaning, a general anesthetic is required to clean under the gum line.
To prevent these diseases and extend your pet’s life, regular dental care is very important. Pets feel a toothache just like humans; it can be broken teeth, a sharp pain from a cavity, or a dull ache from dental disease.
Another reason why dental care is important for pets is that it can help prevent periodontal disease before it starts. The chronic periodontal disease can cause bacteria to infect the body system on a regular basis, and can also cause infection to other parts of the pet’s body, such as the kidney, bladder, and skin.
Oral cancer has also been linked to the chronic dental disease. Since periodontal disease can cause chronic inflammation, this can lead to abnormal cell growth, resulting in cancer.
Also, severe periodontal disease can cause fractures of the lower jaw bone. This is because the bone loss weakens the lower jaw, resulting in a fracture.
Some pets with long noses, such as Dachshunds, having the periodontal disease can develop oronasal fistulas. Oronasal fistulas is caused by loss of bone, which leads to communication between the oral and nasal cavities, often resulting to sinusitis - an infection in the nasal passages.
In rare cases, the severe dental disease can lead to blindness. This is because the last premolar and molar roots in the upper jaw are close to the eyes. Severe inflammation of these tooth roots could result in eye infection and blindness.
Regular dental care is important in keeping your dog or cat healthy and happy!