Did you know that periodontal disease is the most common disease reported by veterinarians in dogs and cats? In fact, approximately 85% of all dogs and cats will have some form of periodontal disease by the time they are 4 years of age. Therefore, unless you have been brushing your pet’s teeth daily since they were puppies or kittens, this problem will likely affect your pet.
Periodontal disease is a process where plaque collects at the area where the tooth meets the gum. Plaque, which essentially is an accumulation of bacteria, will build-up along the gum line, loosening the fibrous attachments between the tooth and surrounding boney socket, ultimately resulting in bone loss, tooth decay, and infection. This infection can spread into the blood stream and on to the kidney and heart valves.
As you can see, this problem of plaque build-up and subsequent periodontal disease can be very serious and even life-threatening to your pet. This is why at Manchaca Road Animal Hospital we strongly encourage you to engage in oral care and prevention at home. The most effective thing you can do is to brush your pet’s teeth daily. You can purchase specially designed tooth brushes that are angled to reach far into the back of your pet’s mouth. There are also brushes that fit over your finger for more control in those smaller mouths. In addition, please remember not to use fluoride toothpaste (our pets do not know how to spit out the paste like we do!). There are several toothpastes available that are specially formulated for dogs and cats, including ones with yummy flavors such as poultry and beef! If daily tooth brushing is not your forte, consider using dental chews and treats such as C.E.T VeggieDents, which have a unique Z-shaped design that works with your dog’s chewing action to reduce plaque and loosen tartar.
So, what can you do if your pet already has plaque and tartar buildup on its teeth? Unfortunately, once the tartar and plaque is there, no amount of brushing will remove it. The only way to get this debris off is to have it professionally scaled and polished by your veterinarian. This procedure requires general anesthesia and your pet will usually go home later that same day. Once the plaque is removed, your veterinarian will thoroughly inspect your pet’s teeth, looking for any evidence of advanced periodontal disease and formulate a treatment plan, which may include tooth extractions, surgical gum closure, and the application of Consil.
Consil is a synthetic bone graft material we use to professionally pack into empty tooth sockets after the tooth has been extracted. This material bonds with the surrounding jaw, aiding in the regeneration of new bone and preventing against any additional bone loss. Over time, we find this to be very helpful in the prevention of jaw fractures that can occur secondary to dental disease and surrounding boney jaw loss.
As you can see, periodontal disease is a very common, but at the same time preventable and treatable, disease amongst dogs and cats. Consult with us at Manchaca Road Animal Hospital about formulating the appropriate oral care program for your pet today!