Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues that surround the teeth. This is the most common disease in pets. Although this condition can be quite painful, most pets do not complain much about it so owners are not aware their pets are uncomfortable. Most affected pets will learn to eat without chewing on the sore spots or they may not chew their food at all. It is very common for people to report that although they had not realized their pet was feeling poorly, the dramatic improvement after a dentistry makes it obvious just how serious the problem was.
Dental calculus or tartar is composed of saliva, food material and bacteria. In the early stages of accumulation, the material is soft and sticky but it later becomes hard and adheres to the teeth. Continual accumulation causes pressure, pain and inflammation of the gums also known as gingivitis. Eventually, the gums will recede and the teeth will become loose. With chronic dental disease, the breath becomes malodorous and the mouth becomes a dangerous source of infection. Bacteria from the tartar can break off and spread to other parts of the body including the kidneys, heart, liver and lungs where it can cause damage or disease. Once tartar and gum disease develop, a dentistry under general anesthesia is required.
Your veterinarian will assess your pet's oral health at their annual physical examination. If a dentistry is required, they will give you an estimate and review the procedure with you.
At-home oral care is the best way to prevent tartar and gingivitis. At-home care may include a prescription diet used to decrease tartar and gingivitis, dental treats, toothbrushing or oral cleansing gels. If you have any questions about your pet's oral health or how to start an at-home program, please discuss it with one of our veterinarians.
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