What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is one of the most common diseases affecting our pets, and left untreated can affect the function of the heart, liver, kidneys, and other vital organs within the body. By the age of 3 over 70% of cats and 80% of dogs have some degree of periodontal disease. 

Dental disease is caused by a buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth, which harbour bacteria in the mouth resulting in inflammation and infection of the gums, gingival recession, and loss of teeth. 

How do I know if my pet has periodontal disease?

Early signs of periodontal disease can include bad breath, red inflamed gums and visible plaque and tartar build up.
More severe signs of dental disease include bleeding gums, loose or missing teeth, excessive drooling, reduced appetite, weight loss, problems keeping food in their mouth, swelling on the sides of the face or under the eye, and irritability. 

It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with your pet’s teeth by looking at and touching them regularly. By doing this you will be more likely to notice small changes, wear and breakage and it will help familiarise them with the feeling of dental examinations. 

How to prevent periodontal disease.

  • Regular dental checks and cleans.  The best way to keep on top of your pet’s dental health is routine dental checks with your Vet. This can help detect problems early and a scale and polish can be performed before the dental disease progresses. 

  • Daily toothbrushing. Just like us, our pets should be brushing their teeth every day. This can be done with either a finger brush or a soft bristled toothbrush using a pet specific toothpaste (never use human toothpaste on your pet). When introducing toothbrushing, it is best to take it slow and offer plenty of praise or rewards. Start by touching their teeth and gums with your fingers to familiarise them with this feeling. You can now introduce your tooth brushing tools. Allow your pet to smell and lick the toothpaste from your hand and toothbrush. The final step is brushing, starting on the front teeth you can slowly increase the amount of teeth you brush each day, being sure to pay special attention to those back teeth, as your pet becomes more tolerant of the process. 

  • Feed a dental specific kibble. The mechanical action of chewing on dry food is a great way to scrape plaque off of your pet's teeth. Whilst all dry food is beneficial, there are dental specific foods that are formulated to clean the teeth such as Hill’s T/d.

  • Offer dental  treats and toys. There are a great variety of treats and toys available to help clean the teeth. These work much like dental kibble, using the mechanical action to remove plaque. Some options include Greenies, Oravet, Kong dental sticks, and raw bones can be used after consulting with your Veterinarian.

    Never feed cooked bones to your pet. Ensure you remove small bones that pose a choking hazard. Be cautious of feeding solid bones as they can fracture teeth. 

  • Use of water additives. Water additives such as Oxyfresh and Aquadent, can be used to freshen breath and neutralise odor causing bacterias.

    Veterinary Dental Treatments

    There may comes a time when your pet's teeth may require professional veterinary treatment.

    Treatment involves a full dental examination while your pet is under anaesthetic, including scaling and polishing. 

    Depending on the condition of your pet’s teeth and gums, it may also be necessary to remove teeth that are fractured or loose. These procedures will be conducted under a general anaesthetic.