Feb 14 2017

Dental Disease: Beyond the Bad Breath

dental tools

This is another installment for Pet Dental Health month.

It is common to think of dental disease as no more than an inconvenience to pet owners in the form of bad breath.  There are dogs that could clear our a room with their breath just by walking through the door. However, dental disease affects much more than your dog’s breath.

dental disease tip of  the iceburg1.) What you can see on your pet’s teeth is only the tip of the iceberg! The plaque build up that you can see on the surface of the teeth extends below the gums. Bacteria inside the plaque damages the tissues around the tooth which eventually leads to the loss of teeth. This bacteria also stimulates the immune system of your pet which leads to inflammation.  The immune response to the bacteria can be very intense, which also leads to loss of gingiva, bone, and other soft tissues surrounding the teeth. It is not uncommon for jaws to be fractured simply from the bone loss associated with severe dental disease.

periodontal disease
2.) More than just the mouth is affected! Studies have shown that dental disease is associated with damage to the liver, kidneys, and heart.  It is not uncommon for pre-operative bloodwork to show increased liver enzymes in dogs with dental disease. In addition, studies have shown in humans that poor diabetic control is associated with dental disease. This is likely to be the case in our furry friends as well.

3.) Dental disease is painful for pets as well! It is not uncommon for us at Country Critters to hear how much better a pet is doing since having its dental disease treated through cleaning and extraction of bad teeth. Dogs and cats are seasoned veterans at hiding their oral pain. Besides the obvious bad breath and plaque build up on the teeth, other signs that owners can see of advanced dental disease include dropping food when eating, decrease in appetite, swelling of the face, pawing at the mouth, reddened gums, and loose or missing teeth. However, it is ideal to have your pet’s teeth cleaned before they get this far advanced.

Ask us at Country Critters if your pet is a candidate for a dental cleaning. It is a good part of your pet’s overall wellness care.  For more information visit the American Veterinary Medical Association web site and watch this video about pet dental health.

countrycritvc | dentistry

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