Prevention and Treatment of Dental Disease in Pets
Over 85% of all dogs beyond the age of 3 and 80% of cats beyond the age of 5 are affected by some form of dental disease. Manifestations of dental disease include:
- Dental plaque and tartar on the teeth
- Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums)
- Periodontal disease (progressive destruction of gum and bony tissues)
- Abscesses (pockets of infection associated with the teeth)
- Cavities or cavity-like erosions (in cats)
Unfortunately, dental disease may result in life-threatening heart, kidney, and liver disease if left untreated. In addition, pets with dental disease may develop bad breath, bleeding from the mouth, and/or nasal discharge.
Cleaning your pet's teeth (called dental prophylaxis) is initially recommended in the treatment of a pet with dental disease. This involves the use of a variety of dental scalers and then polishing of the teeth. Dental x-rays are usually taken as well. Pets affected with dental disease may also benefit from gum procedures (periodontics), root canals (endodontics), restorative dentistry (like fillings, for example,) and extractions where necessary.
In most cases, a dental procedure requires an anesthetic involving a one-day stay in the hospital. Pre-anesthetic blood testing is required for all patients. Some pets may require additional tests (EKG, chest x-rays, etc.) prior to the use of an anesthetic.
After the necessary treatment, you can help in the slowing of the dental disease by feeding your pet hard foods and brushing his or her teeth. An animal whose owner brushes his teeth is a happier, healthier pet!
About Debra Fiorito, DVM, FAVD, Dip. AVDC
Dr. Fiorito has been involved in dental referral practice serving the New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania area for over 25 years. She became a Fellow of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry in 1988, and was the first in the state to become board-certified as a veterinary dental specialist with the American Veterinary Dental College in 1995. Read Dr. Fiorito's full bio here.