How healthy are your pets teeth?
Did you know that dental problems are probably the most common issue our pets suffer from and yet they are also one of the most underdiagnosed? This is mainly because it’s difficult to look properly in their mouths and also bad breath is often considered normal.
However, it’s not!
Poor dental health is painful, causes tooth loss and infections can spread throughout the body – potentially causing significant organ damage. So, it is important for your vet to regularly check your pet’s mouth and put in place a care regime at home to ensure their teeth and gums stay in good condition.
A healthy mouth typically has bright white teeth and pink (or pigmented) gums. However, over time, accumulation of plaque bacteria on the surface of the teeth leads to inflammation of the gums. This is a condition called gingivitis (also known as gum disease). At this stage you might notice reddened gums, bad breath and some build-up of calculus on the tooth surface.
If the condition is allowed to continue unchecked, bacteria will penetrate below the gum line, destroying the tooth supporting structures – a painful condition called periodontitis. If left untreated, this leads to tooth loosening and eventual tooth loss.
Cats may also be affected by gingivitis, but as well as this they may also suffer from one or more tooth resorptive lesions. Here the tooth is progressively destroyed, leading to exposure of the nerve. Cats are also masters of disguise and sometimes it’s hard to tell that they are actually in pain.
So what can be done? The good news is that if gum problems are identified at an early stage, a combination of a scale and polish (like we under-go at the dentist) and on-going home care can make a big difference to your pet’s oral health – including their bad breath!
Contact your vet for a dental check-up.
Chris Devlin BVSc MRCVS is a Vet and Partner at Hillside Veterinary Centre in Corfe Mullen.