Dental disease is common in UK pets: studies show over 80% of dogs suffer gum disease before 3 years old. Disease starts slowly with little or no symptoms but can progress to chronic pain and even bone loss. Changes are because of bacteria in the mouth that cause plaque formation on the teeth, which initiates a chain-reaction of inflammation. Many pets will not show signs of discomfort until advanced stages: it takes a lot for most pets to not want their dinner! Certain breeds are more at risk of disease, often due to the conformation of the jaw. Cat breeds more at risk include Persians, Main Coons, Bermese and Siamese. Dog breeds more at risk include short nosed breeds like Pugs and also Greyhounds.
Signs of dental disease
If you notice any of the above signs, book your pet a check up with their vet.
Advanced dental disease requires scaling and polishing of the teeth and sometimes extractions depending on the severity of the disease. We use the same equipment that human dentists use to do this! However, unlike human patients, our animals will not sit safely still for us, so they will require a general anaesthetic for this procedure.
To avoid discomfort for your pet and the expense of anaesthetized dental treatment, prevention of dental disease is definitely best! Make daily teeth brushing part of your dog or cat’s routine: use a pet or soft children’s toothbrush and don’t use human toothpaste, instead use meat flavoured animal toothpastes. Start by just using the toothpaste on your finger and do this daily from a young age. Then progress to adding in the toothbrush: this is the most important part because the bristles are required to reach plaque under the gumline. This may seem odd to start, but most will enjoy the attention once used to it, and their meaty toothpaste treat! Even after having had dental treatment, dental disease can still return, so this is important to maintain afterwards.
Some cat and dogs, may find this more challenging so other options include mouthwashes and dental chews and foods. Our nurses offer free dental clinics, so please call us to arrange a session for personalised, tailored advice for your pet. Please avoid feeding your pets bones: these commonly cause teeth to break due to the high forces required to chew them and splinters can damage their gums and throats.