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Oral Health And Dental Disease In Pets

Periodontal disease is considered by many veterinarians to be the most common disease that affects pets. Most cats and dogs develop plaque, calculus, and gingivitis by the time they are 1 year of age.

Lack of oral hygiene is probably the most significant reason for the development of periodontal disease in companion animals.

What is dental disease? Does my pet need regular checks?

Periodontal disease results in inflammation and destruction of the tissues around the tooth. The periodontal tissues include: the gums, connective tissue, and alveolar bone (tooth socket). Gingivitis, inflammation of the gums, is the first stage of periodontal disease.

As periodontal disease progresses there is destruction of tissue attachment between the tooth and the surrounding tissues. There is visible inflammation and the loss of bone around the tooth.

The loss of gum tissue attachment and bone results in “pockets” of disease below the gum line. This is called periodontal disease. Untreated periodontal disease is a constant source of infection for the rest of the body. Eventually, it leads to weakened areas of bone, mobile teeth, and tooth loss.

Regular check-ups and keeping your pet’s teeth clean is the best way to treat and prevent periodontal disease.

Does my pet need a general anaesthetic for their dental procedure?

A complete dental examination, teeth cleaning, and dental x-rays cannot be performed on a dog or cat without anaesthesia. Groomers or other organisations which claim to do anaesthetic-free dentals are unfortunately insufficient in allowing complete oral examination and dental cleaning.

Without anaesthesia, it is not possible to take dental X-rays, clean and polish all surfaces of the teeth thoroughly, and probe the entirety of the gum line. Not cleaning these areas will lead to chronic periodontal disease. This chronic infection under the gum line will lead to abscessed teeth and can harm the heart, kidneys, and other vital organs.

Anaesthesia is the client’s number one concern and the most common reason for resisting having dental procedures done on their pets. We recognize this is a legitimate concern for pet owners and try to make every attempt to make anaesthesia as safe as possible.

Is my pet too old for Anaesthesia?

We frequently meet pet owners worried about anaesthesia because they think their pet is “too old for anaesthesia.” Let’s consider the facts regarding age and anaesthesia risks. Age is not a disease and does not directly reflect health status.

We all know of healthy older people (or pets) and young people with poor health. Our vets prefer to evaluate each pet individually to accurately assess health status. Anaesthesia is individualised for patients based on their health.

Fortunately, patients with health problems can have safe anaesthesia and receive excellent dental care! The risks of anaesthesia are substantially reduced by the veterinary professionals providing care. 

Anaesthetic-related death in pets is estimated to be less than 1%. The likelihood of pain and suffering from untreated disease approaches 100%. 

We prefer to treat dental disease to avoid unnecessary suffering. It is well worth the risk! Do we want our companions to live a long life with chronic pain?

At My Kind of Vet, we offer FREE dental checks with a nurse all year round! Book yours today!