Dental disease is a very common condition in cats and dogs. Improved dental health and care has been shown to contribute to the longer lifespan of pet cats and dogs.
The stages of Dental disease
1) Food and bacteria form plaque on the teeth
2) Plaque mixes with saliva to harden and form tartar.
3) The tartar causes gingivitis (inflammation and infection of the gum), which causes the gums to recede from the teeth
4) The bone surrounding the tooth roots becomes affected (periodontal disease). When this occurs it is often necessary to extract diseased teeth.
Dental work in the clinic
Dental procedures in clinic including ultrasonic scaling and polishing under a general anaesthetic are often the first step to help manage dental disease.
We will often perform dental radiographs (X-rays) to identify potentially painful disease that cannot be seen below the gum line.
Before (grade 1-2 tartar) / After Dental scale and polish
Dental home care is very important
- Brushing: is the gold standard according to veterinary dentists. Brushing the teeth daily (ultimately with a pet toothpaste and brush (finger or brush)) will help remove food and plaque before it can progress to tartar. If this isn’t done frequently then it won’t be helping your furry friend very much (it takes 2-3 days for tartar to form)
- Dental diets (Hills T/D or Royal Canin Dental): These diets are designed so that the biscuit does not shatter, and the pet must chew the biscuit, mechanically cleaning the teeth. They also have additives that bind and reduce the formation of tartar
- Dental chews / toys: Greenies, Rawhide chews, Pigs Ears and chew toys can all encourage chewing
- “HealthyMouth”: Water additive that helps prevent the chemical reaction that produces tartar It works by interfering with the formation of the bacterial biofilm within the mouth that acts as the precursor to plaque. Simply dilute HealthyMouth into your pets bowl, each time you change the water. More information can be found at the HealthyMouth website.
- Oral gels (eg Maxiguard): Can be applied regularly to gums to slow tartar formation
- Plaqueoff: a powdered seaweed formula added daily to your pet’s food helps eliminate bad breath, plaque and tartar associated with dental disease.
- Raw bones: Chewing bones can be highly effective in maintaining dental health, as well as providing a source of environmental enrichment. Bone chewing carries potential risks of fractured teeth and potentially gastrointestinal obstruction, and we always recommend supervision initially to ensure your pet is approaching bones appropriately. Bone feeding is best used 2 – 3 times weekly. We do not recommend feeding large beef shank or long bones as these are often very hard and highly fatty. For large dogs chicken frames are excellent, while for small to medium dogs, lamb flaps (the rib bones) and chicken necks are ideal. For cats, raw chicken wings or chicken necks 1-2 x weekly can be useful. May be beneficial for some animals to prevent tartar formation. PLEASE NOTE – In February 2018 a study was released that shows a possible link between feeding raw chicken (especially chicken necks) and paralysis in dogs. While not common please consider this risk if choosing to feed your dog raw chicken)
Regular dental check ups and in some cases regular dental scaling and polishing are important to maintain oral care. If you are concerned about your pet’s dental health, please discuss this with one of our team.