Cat and Dog Dentistry – Dental Disease in Cats and Dogs

Periodontal disease (periodontitis) is one of the most common disease in cats and dogs. It is an inflammation of some or all of a tooth’s supporting structures. It is caused by bacteria that are located on the teeth and surrounding tissues.

Signs of Dental Disease

One of the most common sign’s you may notice is bad breath. You can also raise your pets lip and look for red or swollen gums and teeth that are yellow or brown (plaque/tartar/scale siting on the teeth).

Other signs of severe dental disease can include poor appetite and weight loss. If your pet has scale on the teeth on one side but not the other, this is usually due to the pet no longer eating on the side with the scale and is usually due to tooth pain in one or more teeth and should be seen by us urgently.

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Teeth may become loose with worsening periodontal disease, may form an abscess (sometimes seen as a draining sinus beneath the eye over the face) or may fall out from loss of supporting tissues. The link between dental disease and kidney/heart/liver disease has been well established in people and most likely will be the same in our pets, so clean teeth equals healthy pets.

Teeth Cleaning

Once your cat or dog is diagnosed with dental disease they should be booked in for teeth cleaning to remove the plaque/treat any underlying periodontal disease. This is performed under a general anaesthetic and can take as little as 15-20 minutes or over an hour depending on the severity of the dental disease. During your initial consult it will be discussed if there is a need for tooth removal, though it is not always known how severe some of the disease is until your pet is under anaesthetic. If teeth removal is performed, your pet receives three layers of pain control, non-steroidals such as Metacam which act on local pain receptors, opiod pain relief such as Morphine which acts on pain receptors in the brain and local anaesthetic, such as Bupivicaine, to ensure your pet is as comfortable as possible afterwards. Where tooth removal is performed, your pet will be sent home with antibiotics and pain relief.

Dental Care at Home

Brushing your dogs teeth is very effective, but is only useful to keep already clean teeth, clean – brushing will not remove tartar/scale already on your pet’s teeth. To assist in prevention of gum disease we recommend dry food twice a day, and your veterinarian
will recommend the type of food. As well as the benefits of dry food there are further advances with the dry food by various companies that also help, such as the phosphate crystal coating that Eukanuba uses on their dry foods, which stops/reduces bacteria being able to make tartar/scale and the T/D dry food made by Hills, which is a fibrous food that does not shatter on impact and rubs the slime off teeth before it can become tartar/scale. Dental chews can also help keep teeth clean/slow the build up of tartar.

Bones can be used to keep teeth clean, but only large uncut bones should be used as it is the chewing/gnawing at the bone that keeps teeth clean. Dog’s that actually eat bones, eventually break teeth, leading to tooth removal (costly) or a root canal to preserve the tooth (really expensive!).