Periodontal disease is the most common disease affecting our dogs and cats. Luckily, it also happens to be one of the most preventable and treatable diseases. Routine veterinary visits are the first step in recognizing if your pet suffers from periodontal disease, as many dogs and cats are very stoic and can hide oral discomfort. The veterinarian will check the teeth for tartar build-up and the gums for signs of inflammation, such as swelling, redness and bleeding. This visual examination will allow the doctor to make appropriate recommendations regarding daily at home care, diet changes, and dental cleaning procedures.
If left untreated, dental disease can quickly progress and lead to several complications, including foul smelling breath, gum recession, abscessed tooth roots, loose teeth, pain, and trouble eating. Moreover, severe dental infections can begin to eat away at the surrounding bone, a process called osteomyelitis. Once the bone is infected, it becomes very weak and susceptible to fracture from even gentle bumps to the jaw. Oral infections can also contaminate the blood stream and be spread to other organs of the body, including the heart and kidneys.
The best treatment for dental disease is prevention. Starting early with introducing puppies and kittens to having their teeth brushed daily sets them up for a lifetime of oral health. Daily tooth brushing is the #1 way to prevent tartar accumulation and maintain a healthy gum line. Please visit our YouTube channel for an informative video on how to brush your dog’s teeth. Other prevention methods include appropriate chewing treats (i.e. MilkBone Brushing Chews/Enzymatic Rawhides), food and water additives (i.e.PerioPowder), and prescription dental diets. A complete list of approved diets and supplements can be found at the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s website, VOHC.org.
February is Dental Health Month and is a great time to get started with your pet’s dental care! Please visit VCMC to have one of our excellent veterinarians examine your pet’s teeth and discuss what treatments options are available for your pet.