Your Pets Dental Health
Dental disease affects up to 80% of pets over the age of three, and just like humans, there can be serious consequences of poor dental health.
Your Pet's teeth
Dogs start out with 28 baby teeth, cats start out with 26. By 6 months of age, these baby teeth fall out and are replaced with permanent teeth, 42 in dogs and 30 in the cat. You may or may not find the teeth as they fall out. As dogs play and chew on toys, You might see a tooth. Likewise, as a cat grooms, you may find a tooth in the fur. If deciduous teeth don't fall out and the permanent teeth erupt under them, this can lead to problems, such as increased tartar formation, malocclusion problems and gum irritation.
When to start dental care.
The earlier the better. With the help of your vet be on the lookout for retained baby teeth and malocclusion (bad bite) problems. Your vet can teach you how care for your pet's teeth and gums early on. With a new puppy or kitten, talk to your vet at the vaccination appointment on how to initiate a good dental care programme at home. Most pets are happy to provide brushing lessons, and many carry brushes and toothpaste specifically for dogs and cats. (Note: Do not use human toothpaste on your pet!)
If your pet is an adult over 3 years of age, it would be wise to schedule a dental check up with your vet.
How can I tell if my pet has dental problems?
Bad breath is often a first indicator of dental disease. Gently lift the lips and check for TARTAR, inflamed gums, or missing/broken teeth. Cats may exhibit increased drooling. Both cats and dogs can exhibit reluctance to eat or play with toys, "chattering" of the teeth when trying to eat, lethargy bleeding gums, eroded teeth, and failing to grooming cats. Dental disease progresses in stages-- if caught early, you can prevent further damage and save as many teeth as possible.
How is the rest of the body affected by bad teeth?
Infected gums and teeth aren't just a problem in the mouth - the heart, kidney, intestinal tract, and joints may also be infected. The tartar and any infected areas of the mouth contain a multitude of harmful bacteria that can 'seed' to other parts of the body. But regular dental care, you can prevent these more serious side affects.
What is involved in a dental procedure
Your pet will be fasted from the evening before for the anesthesia. The dental itself is similar to a human dental cleaning - tartar removal, checking for cavities, loose teeth, any growths on the gums or palate, removal of diseased teeth, and finally, polishing. The polishing is to smooth the tooth after tartar removal, as the tartar pits the tooth. A smooth tooth will not encourage tartar formation as easily as a roughened tooth. With good dental care, your pet can enjoy a long and healthy life. Many pets will often be then sent home on a antibiotic and help remove any lingering bacteria.