Periodontal Disease and Your Dog

Dental disease can be found in 85% of pets over the age of 3. Periodontal disease is the most common dental disease and if left untreated can cause tooth loss and cause damage to all the major organs, heart, liver, kidney and brain. Untreated dental disease can shorten your pet’s life span by 3 years.

So what is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease begins with plaque build up on the surface of your dog’s tooth. Just like in humans, the plaque starts as a biofilm of bacteria mixed with food particles and saliva. If this film is not removed, it eventually layers into what is known as tartar.

The tartar begins to mineralize and the bacteria begin to infect the gum causing gingivitis. As the tartar continues to build up, it works it’s way beneath the gum causing the gum line to recede. Eventually, the infection continues to spread and will loosen the attachment of the tooth and tooth loss will occur.

Besides the tooth loss, the gum infection also begins to shower the dog’s blood stream with tiny bits of bacteria. These bacteria will begin to settle in all the major organs, especially the mitral valve of the heart and in the kidneys. This can lead to congestive heart failure and kidney failure and ultimately the untimely death of your pet.

So what can I do to prevent dental disease?

Start with getting your pet used to having his teeth brushed at an early age. Just like in humans, plaque replaces itself every 12 hours, so optimally, your pet’s teeth should be brushed twice a day. Do not use human toothpaste, the fluoride could be swallowed by your pet and cause toxicity. Use toothpaste that is designed and flavored just for pets. I know that brushing your pet’s teeth is hard to do, but brushing really helps keep their mouth healthy.

Also available are special diets such as Hill’s t/d to mechanically remove the tartar and keep the pet’s teeth clean. There are also enzymatically treated chews, such as greenies and C.E.T. chews that can help remove the plaque and tartar.

There are also dental oral rinses and Breathalyser water additives to help with oral hygiene.

Once tartar is formed on your pet’s teeth, your veterinarian will need to scale and polish your pet’s teeth under anesthesia to remove the tartar that is beneath the gum line. Once removed, it is up to you to practice good dental care with your pet with daily brushing and other dental products to keep the mouth healthy.

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