Periodontal disease is the most common ailment of small animals and is treatable. The cause of gum disease is the same in cats and dogs as it is in people. Gum disease is an infection resulting from build-up of soft dental plaque on the surfaces of the teeth around the gums. The bacteria in dental plaque irritate the gum tissue if plaque is allowed to accumulate, which often leads to infection in the bone surrounding the teeth. Hard dental tartar (calculus) consists of calcium salts from saliva deposited on plaque. Tartar starts to form within a few days on a tooth surface that is not kept clean, and provides a rough surface that enhances further plaque accumulation. Once it has begun to grow in thickness, tartar is difficult to remove without dental instruments.
We recommend preventive care that involves brushing, dental chews, oral rinses and examination of your pet’s mouth at least once a year. Brushing needs to be done at least 3 to 4 times a week, if you want to make a difference in your pet’s oral health. Plus, by looking in your pet’s mouth while you are brushing, you will be more aware of any oral abnormalities (oral masses, bad breath, missing teeth) or the increased redness of the gums that indicates periodontal disease and a need for an examination by your veterinarian.
The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) recommends having your pet’s teeth checked if you observe any of the following problems:
Broken or loose teeth
Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
Teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar
Abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth
Reduced appetite or refusal to eat
Pain in or around the mouth
Bleeding from the mouth
Swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth
You are sure to increase your companion’s quality of life by providing preventive dental care and letting your veterinarian know of any concerns during your pet's visit.