Pets need dental care too!

Dental disease is one of the most prevalent diseases in both cats and dogs with up to 80% of dogs and 70% of cats having some form of dental disease by age two. It is also preventable.

In recent years, dentistry in the veterinary field has come a long way and we are beginning to realise the effects of dental health on the overall health of our pets. Not to mention the pain associated with infected, diseased teeth and gums.

What is dental disease?

Dental disease, or periodontal disease, begins with a build-up of plaque on the teeth and gums. Plaque is mixture of food particles, bacteria and saliva. As this builds up, their immune system reacts and causes inflammation of the gums.

Signs and symptoms of periodontal disease

  • Bad breath
  • Yellow/brown crust on teeth (tartar)

  • Red, inflamed gums

  • Receding gum line

  • Change in eating or chewing habits

  • Excessive drooling

  • Pawing at the mouth

  • Pain / bleeding when you touch the gums

Stages of dental disease

Dental disease is generally graded from 0-4, with 0 indicating no dental disease, to 4 indicating advanced dental disease.

Maintaining pets’ dental hygiene

Good dental hygiene starts as a puppy/kitten. Training your pet to have their teeth checked and brushed is important as dental care at home will reduce the likelihood of your pet developing dental disease. Throughout their lives, there are multiple things we can do at home to promote your pet’s dental health.

Regular dental checks

Your pet’s vet is also their dentist! At a dental check, the vet will examine their teeth, gums, tongue, cheeks and all surfaces of the mouth. They will be checking for any signs of dental disease including tartar, gingivitis or infection. They will also be looking for any fractured, broken or damaged teeth. A tailored treatment plan will be given to each pet.

We recommend 6 monthly dental checks to ensure your pet’s teeth are clean and healthy! Did you know we offer dental checks for FREE for all existing clients?

Tooth brushing

Tooth brushing is the gold standard for home dental care as it is the best way to prevent dental disease. Tooth brushing needs to be done every day, or every second day, to be effective. Remember to always use a pet specific toothpaste!

Note: we do not recommend tooth brushing for pets with existing dental disease as this can cause pain and future aversion to having their teeth brushed. If unsure whether or not to start brushing your pet’s teeth, please book in for a FREE dental check first.

Dental diet

Dental diets are specifically formulated dry kibbles that work to clean the teeth using an abrasive action (like tooth brushing) as well as containing active ingredients that fight plaque build-up and bad breath. Dental diets are complete and balanced diets and can be fed exclusively. We recommend Hills T/D or Royal Canin Dental. This should be at least 60% of your pet’s diet to be effective.

Dental chews

In addition to a dental diet, dental chews, such as Greenies and Oravet, have been shown to reduce tartar build up through chewing action as well as active ingredients that also freshen breath. One chew of the correct weight range should be given daily. This should also be accounted for by reducing your pet’s total daily food slightly.

Mouthwashes, gels & water additives

In some cases, pets may not accept tooth brushing or dental diets. In these cases, water additives such as Oxyfresh or pet mouthwashes such as Mavlab Dental Spray Gel can be beneficial.

Treating dental disease

Just like humans, most pets will require a dental clean (known as a scale and polish) at some point in their lives. This will involve your pet being anaesthetised, so we can safely examine the mouth, teeth, gums and tongue to create a thorough picture of the overall health of your pet’s mouth. We will then proceed to remove the tartar/plaque that has built up on your pet’s teeth and just under the gums by scaling your pet’s teeth and then applying a polish that helps to remove any smaller plaque as well as protecting your pet’s teeth.

During the examination, any broken or infected teeth will be noted and in some cases may require extraction to prevent any further damage to the jaw bone incurred by the infection.