February is National Pet Dental Month
Does your pet suffer from bad breath? Bad breath can often be the first sign of dental disease. Sulphurous gases produced by plaque bacteria can be responsible for the foul odour you have detected.
Periodontal (dental) disease is extremely common; with 70% of dogs and 80% of cats over the age of 3 years exhibiting some signs.
Periodontal disease is caused by plaque. Plaque – a sticky film containing millions of bacteria attaches to the tooth surface. The plaque irritates the gums causing inflammation at the point where the tooth meets the gum. This is called gingivitis. Gingivitis is reversible.
Plaque left on the teeth can harden into calculus (tartar) which cannot be removed by tooth brushing alone. Calculus irritates the gums further, the inflammation increases, and the gum lifts away from the tooth slightly. This creates pockets between the gum and the tooth where further plaque and calculus can penetrate, leading to infection and tooth decay. This progression of the disease is called periodontitis. Periodontitis can cause irreversible damage to teeth and therefore a ‘dental’ may be recommended for pets showing these signs.
During a dental treatment, pets undergo a general anaesthetic. Under anaesthetic the vet can thoroughly and safely examine all of your pet’s teeth and also assess the health of the whole mouth. Calculus is removed from teeth using a combination of handheld tools and an ultrasonic scaler, and all of the teeth are polished smooth. If any teeth are diseased irreversibly then dental extractions take place. Diseased or damaged teeth are extracted by gradually breaking down the ligaments that hold them into the jaw so that they can be removed easily. This needs to be done carefully and can be very time consuming, especially for canine teeth and larger teeth that have several roots. Most teeth extractions do not need stitches as the mouth heals very quickly; and within a week or so your pet should be able to manage dry kibble again. Your pet will usually be sent home the same day with liquid pain relief and soft, palatable food. Regular, free of charge, dental checks can then help you avoid further dental treatments in the future.
To raise awareness of periodontal disease, Rutland Veterinary Centre is offering fixed price dental treatments for February and March. Please speak to one of our team for full details. Dental treatments are not routinely covered by most pet insurance companies, so if your pet has been recommended for a dental, this offer could give you a substantial saving of up to 35%.
We also offer free dental checks with one of our registered veterinary nurses, and stock a full range of feline and canine toothpaste, brushes, dental treats and food and water additives to help prevent plaque. A team member will be happy to advise you on the most suitable products for your pet.
Daily tooth brushing is the gold standard in plaque prevention. If you would like to try brushing your pet’s teeth but don’t know where to start you are not alone! Only 8% of dog owners and 4% of cat owners currently brush their pet’s teeth. Come and see one of our nurses who would be delighted to help you. You can also take a look at our useful videos (https://rutlandvets.co.uk/useful-videos/) for guidance. Remember, never use human toothpaste on your pet.
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