The most common dental disease in pets
One of the most overlooked aspects in preventative health maintenance is dental care. Dogs and cats do have problems with their teeth. Many of these problems are very slow in onset. Reluctance to eat, odor from the mouth, loss of energy, and reluctance to play are a few signs of possible dental disease.
Periodontal disease is the most common cause of dental problems. Periodontal disease starts as an invisible glycoprotein layer on the tooth surface. Bacteria use this layer to attach to the tooth surface in a substance called plaque. Dead attached bacteria from calculus, which harbors additional bacteria. As these bacteria grow on the surface of the tooth they start to enter the gingival tissues. Bacteria produce toxins that injure the tissue.
As periodontal disease progresses, bacteria enter deeper into the soft tissue, and destruction of the periodontium (supporting tissues of the tooth) begins. Bone holding the tooth in place recedes as the inflammatory process progresses. Serious problems occur at this time, resulting in the destruction of the periodontium, making the tooth loose and painful. The gingival infection results in a discharge of debris, organisms, and toxins into the bloodstream, possibly affecting the liver, heart, lungs, or kidneys.
Dental Disease Treatment
Based on your pet’s exam, professional dental prophylaxis is recommended. This procedure will require your pet to be under anesthesia to allow for a complete exam, treatment, and oral surgery if necessary. Prior to anesthesia, your pet’s blood will be tested to assure he/she is in good health for anesthesia. Advanced anesthesia protocols and monitoring are used to assure your pet is safe under anesthesia. Your pet will also be receiving IV fluids during the procedure to maintain blood pressure and electrolyte balance.
During the dental procedure, a complete oral exam will be performed and each tooth carefully examined for signs of infection, mobility, tissue pockets, and root exposures. The gums and oral tissues will also be examined for abnormalities including gingival hyperplasia, tumor formation, and signs of infection. After examining the mouth, each tooth is scaled ultrasonically then polish with a fluoride treatment is applied to smooth any irregular surfaces and to help prevent future tartar accumulation. Many patients with the advanced dental disease require extensive extractions to remove infected teeth and the associated chronic pain. Based on the pet’s degree of dental disease an antibiotic and pain medication may be prescribed.