Importance of Pet Dental Health
How would you feel when something is stuck between your teeth and you just can’t remove it? Now, imagine that happened to your fur friend. Poor dental health can lead to dental disease also known as periodontal disease, one of the most diagnosed inflammatory diseases in small animal veterinary medicine. The onset of periodontal disease not only result in local effects but also the living quality and sometimes systemic consequence which appears secondary to dental plaque-associated bacteriaemia, affecting distant tissues and organs. Therefore, maintaining good dental care is very important.
What Is Dental Disease?
Dental disease is classified into four stages according to inflammation severity: stage 1 (gingivitis), stage 2 (early periodontitis), stage 3 (moderate periodontitis) and stage 4 (advanced periodontitis). According to recent studies, almost 90% of dogs will have developed some form of periodontal disease by 2 years of age. Normal healthy gingival tissues are coral pink in colour (allowing for normal pigmentation), and have a thin, knife-like edge, with a smooth and regular texture. Meanwhile, a periodontal diseased oral cavity appears with yellow-brown tartar covering the teeth and gum, also with bad breath and loss of gum attachment which gives chronic bacteria a chance to cause infection.
Dental disease begins with the plaque containing bacteria and food particles buildup on the teeth which then hardens into tartar. As the tartar spread from above to under the gumline, inflammatory response in the host leads to loss of bone and tissue structures supporting the tooth, resulting in chronic pain affecting their quality of life. Common signs of dental disease in cats and dogs include:
- loose teeth
- bad breath
- painful and bleeding mouth
- refusal or inability to eat and drink
Tartar on a cat's teeth before dental scaling.
How Can I Maintain Pet Oral Hygiene?
Dental care for pets includes not only professional dental cleanings done by the veterinarian but also regular home-based dental care. Here are a few things you can do at home to help maintain the healthy oral hygiene of your pets:
- Establish teeth cleaning routine when your pet is young. Brushing your cat’s or dog's teeth daily is a great way to maintain good oral health.
- Give your pet dental treats.Not all pets like their teeth being brushed. Although not as good as brushing, these products will generally help. Discuss with your veterinarian to try some dental treats.
- Provide your pets with dental toys. Some pets toys are designed to clean pets’ teeth and even freshen their breath. These toys are durable, so your pets can chew on them to their heart's content.
Professional dental cleanings require general anaesthesia to allow your veterinarian to have a thorough check and ensure that your pet's entire mouth is cleaned. So, talk with your veterinarian to figure out the best schedule and options for your pet’s dental care routine.
Post-dental treatment under General Anesthesia.
Done by: Nurse Shi Min