Bad breath is one of the early signs your pet may have dental disease. As veterinarians, we are concerned about dental care for many reasons. Not only can dental disease cause your pet discomfort, the high levels of bacteria in a diseased mouth can periodically be released into the blood stream, potentially affecting heart, kidney and liver.
We all appreciate that tooth root infections and loose teeth can cause dental pain, but dental discomfort can occur prior to these advanced conditions. Periodontitis (infection of the gums and structures around the teeth) is also a painful condition. Eating habits of a pet are not a good indication of how much dental pain might be present. Chronic pain can lead to depression and behavioural changes. 80% of dogs are affected by periodontal issues by the age of two.
There are some breeds that have a higher incidence of dental disease. It is believed they lack an enzyme that helps attack anaerobic mouth bacteria (Greyhounds, Dachshunds, Schnauzers, Maine coon, Ragdolls, Birmans, Tonkinese)
How can I treat dental disease?
You cannot treat disease with preventive measures. We need to treat the existing disease then continue with preventative measures to improve longer term dental health. Treatment requires your pet to have a full anaesthetic to examine the mouth, radiograph any teeth of concern, clean the teeth and extract any teeth as required. Once clean, home dental care is critical in maintaining a healthy mouth. This can include brushing teeth, applying gel or using wipes on teeth; feeding a prescription dental food or dental chews.