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Dental Care for Your Pet

Let’s look at the basic foundation of dental disease…

Bacteria: It has been estimated that there may be up to 1400 types of micro-organisms in a dog or cat mouth.  While some are beneficial to our pet’s mouth, most are not.

Biofilm: A mix of bacteria in a “slime” of glycoproteins and polysaccharides (substances in saliva), dead gum tissue cells, blood cells and microscopic food particles.  Biofilm can be thought of as a thin, flexible layer that covers the teeth and gums

Plaque: THE BAD STUFF!  If biofilm is left to its own devices, it becomes thicker and firmer, attaching not only to the teeth but also working its way under the gums.  The numbers of bacteria increase dramatically.  These bacteria produce dangerous and harmful substances that, coupled with the other components in the biofilm, cause damage and inflammation of the gums leading to gingivitis and periodontal disease.

Tartar: Think of tartar (aka calculus) as a thick, mineralized shield over the plaque.  Tartar protects plaque from our efforts to remove it, allowing gingivitis and periodontal disease to worsen over time. 

What can severe dental disease do to your pet…

  • It is estimated that by 3 years of age, 75% of dogs and cats will have some form of periodontal disease

  • Chronic gingivitis can cause severe pain, making it difficult to eat, play and chew normally

  • Many owners believe their pet’s teeth are fine because they are willing to eat and drink normally; however, 66% of pets have some form of periodontal disease.  Remember pets instinctually hide pain.

  • Over time dental disease can lead to damage to other body organs such as the heart, liver, kidneys, and lungs.

  • At each examination, we examine pets for dental disease.  Remember that just because the teeth look clean does not mean there is not bacteria causing damage under the gumline.  Gingivitis may be the only indication of a problem.

How Do We STOP Dental Disease?

We need to stop this cycle at the BIOFILM LAYER!!  If we can keep the biofilm (remember that’s the layer of muck and bacteria that sticks to the teeth) from forming, we can dramatically decrease the amount of plaque and tartar that builds up.  This means less severe dental disease and, therefore, a healthy mouth.  How do we do this:

  • Regular yearly check-ups which include an examination of your pet’s mouth, teeth and gums.  During such exams, we can identify any potential problems and recommend treatment options… all of which is geared to helping your pet live a long and happy life

  • Brush your pet’s teeth 2-3 times/week.  This helps to break up the biofilm before it turns to plaque

  • ONE OF THE SIMPLEST WAY is to use products that break up the biofilm for us.  CET products (toothpaste, chews, and water additives) as well as use of Hills Science Diet T/D dental kibble can assist and are available in the clinic.  

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