Dental disease is one of the most common diseases seen clinically in adult cats and dogs and can also be one of the most silent.
Periodontal disease begins with the accumulation of bacteria in the mouth that starts off as gingivitis and can eventually lead to a plaque/tartar buildup on the surface of the teeth. When the bacteria in the plaque gets built up, it causes your pets immune system to recognize it as something foreign in the body. When this happens, the immune system will try to attack the foreign invader by releasing white blood cells to the area, but they will end up attacking the surrounding structures instead (such as the gum tissue). It will result in having inflamed gums, destroyed tissue and can even have a loss of bone structure.
Now that we have a better understanding of what periodontal disease is let’s talk about the symptoms. Remember, when I said that it could be one of the most silent diseases? We weren’t kidding. Pets can be extremely stoic and will not show many symptoms indicating that they do have early signs of dental disease; the symptoms come much later once it becomes more serious. Late-stage dental disease can cause symptoms such as:
- Bleeding or very red gums
- Losing teeth or wiggly teeth
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Excessive drooling (this is usually an indication of pain)
- Refusing to eat hard food or having problems picking up kibble
- Blood In the water bowl or on toys
*If your pet is showing any signs of these symptoms please contact your veterinarian*
The best time to start preventing dental disease is the first day you bring home your new pet. Getting your pet used to have their teeth brushed and enjoying tasty dental treats is the best way to set your pet up for success. If they do not like getting their teeth brushed, there are many other options that include a dental diet, dental treats and even dental toys!
You can contact us to assist you in any questions you may have or any dental tips to assist you in helping your pet have a pearly white smile!
Written by: Candice Dystant, RVT