Just like us, a healthy mouth in our pets is vital for a long and healthy life. Unfortunately, dental disease is one of the most common problems seen in cats and dogs with up to 70% of pets over the age of three, suffering from the disease. If left untreated, dental disease can cause a lot of pain in our pets and can lead to more serious illnesses, such as heart, liver and kidney disease.
Some common signs that your pet may have dental disease include bad breath, yellow/brown tartar on teeth, dribbling, difficulty eating, pawing or rubbing the mouth, loose teeth or toothless and bleeding gums.
Pets are stoic and often owners are unaware that pets are suffering from toothache or gum disease, which is why regular veterinary check-ups are important – vets can see what they cannot tell you!
Why is dental disease so common?
The simple answer is because animals do not clean their teeth like we do! Most of the dental problems that pets encounter are due to plaque. Plaque is a colourless film on the surface of the tooth that contains large amounts of bacteria. Left untreated, plaque hardens into a substance called tartar that forms along the base of the tooth, near and below the gumline. This process causes inflammation of the gums that is known as gingivitis. As the inflammation progresses, it destroys gums and tissue that support the teeth, leading to pain, bone loss and ultimately loss of the tooth. If left untreated, bacterial infection can spread to the bloodstream, causing heart, kidney and liver problems.
Technology to help find what’s hiding below the gumline
Although a physical examination by your veterinary professional will give a very good picture of the health of your pet’s teeth and gums, it is what is happening below the gumline that is really important for overall dental health.
At Tauranga, Te Puna, Katikati and Papamoa Village Vets, all four clinics are equipped with Vet Image Processors and Portable X-ray Generators – it is this technology which allows veterinary staff to see what lies below the gumline. The four clinics are also now all equipped with the latest state of art ultrasonic scalers and high-speed drills.
Tauranga Veterinary Services Managing Director Dr David McDonnell, who is himself a veterinarian says clients can be sure that any dental procedure at Tauranga, Te Puna, Katikati Papamoa Village Vets is performed to extremely high standards from teams who are knowledgeable and experienced.
“Having the ability to perform a digital, full mouth X-ray on our patients with dental disease, means we have been able to raise the standard of care to the highest level across all four clinics,” he says.
“I have no doubt this investment will result in a better quality of life for our furry friends. It will result in much more early detection of dental disease, less intervention and ultimately less long-term associated costs,” he adds.
Signs of look for, prevention and treatment
Just like with humans, prevention is key to maintaining optimal dental health. Regular veterinary consultations will help to keep on top of any dental disease your pet may have and minimise the risk of further infection. However, if you notice any of the below symptoms in your pet, it would be wise to make a trip to the clinic.
- Bleeding gums
- Bad breath
- Dribbling saliva
- Subdued behaviour
- Tooth loss
- Pawing at the mouth
- Change of eating habits
- Pain when eating/dropping food
- Refusing to eat
The good news is that dental disease is preventable and treatable. Prevention can be achieved with special diets (that help remove plaque as they eat), innovative products such as dental chews, and physically cleaning teeth with a toothbrush and pet toothpaste.
However, your also pet needs professional dental care from vets, make sure to have your pet booked in for a dental check or overall wellness check at least once a year.
If your pet has not had a dental health check in the last year, we would encourage you to bring them in. Head to our website for easy online booking or call us on 0800 838 7267.