Dental Disease and Your Pet

Dental disease can affect our dogs and cats at any stage of life, but it is most common as our pets enter middle age. 85% of dogs and cats over 6 years old have some form of dental disease.

The Categories of Dental Disease

Dental disease isn’t one-size-fits-all. It can be put into three categories.

The three categories of dental disease are:

  1. Gingivitis
  2. Tartar
  3. Pyorrhea

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums. You can easily see this by the increase in the pinkness of your pet’s gums, especially at the gum line. Tartar is the accumulation of plaque on the teeth, usually starting at the gum line in conjunction with gingivitis. Pyorrhea is the most serious of the three conditions. It is pus in the mouth, usually between the teeth and gums.

How to Treat Dental Disease in Your Pets

All three of these conditions require treatment. Therapy can range from antibiotics and anesthesia to complete dental scaling and polishing. We decide upon the appropriate type of treatment after the oral examination. We treat these conditions because they are actual infections.

Dental disease can also lead to infections in other areas, including:

  • Heart
  • Lung
  • Liver
  • Kidney
  • Skin
  • Prostate

The Cause of Dental Infections

As with most things in veterinary care, we’re typically able to point out what may have contributed to dental disease and the possible ensuing infections.

These conditions are caused by one of two reasons:

  1. The first reason is feeding only canned or soft foods. These foods give little to no benefits to the teeth and gums because they require little to no chewing.
  2. The second reason is genetics. As with our teeth – some people get cavities or excessive tartar due to genetics –some animals have more dental problems than others due to genetics. Since we cannot change our genetics, dry food and hard biscuits are our recommendations.

It all begins with proper oral care at home. The best-case scenario is to brush your pet’s teeth daily, but you’ve got to start them pretty young, so they get used to it. For our older patients who may be a little less tolerant, we recommend CET Chews, Science Diet T/D (as treats or regular diet), and water additives.

When your pet’s face is starting to get stinky, give us a call! Let’s cure any problems and prevent more serious ones before they begin.

Dr. Chelsea McAnally