According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by three years of age. Without regular brushing and veterinary dental cleanings, bacteria, food particles, minerals from saliva, and other debris can accumulate as plaque and then harden on the tooth’s surface and at the gum line, forming tartar or calculus. Can you imagine what your teeth and gums would look like if you never brushed your teeth?
If left untreated, this plaque and tartar buildup can lead to gingivitis (an inflammation of the gums). When gingivitis becomes severe, periodontal disease is the result, damaging the structures that support the teeth and ultimately leading to severe infection, tooth loss, and bone absorption. As well as being painful to your pet, bacteria can invade the bloodstream and damage other parts of the body, such as heart valves, liver, and kidneys.
Our veterinarians do a dental examination as part of your pet’s physical exam, and can determine whether your pet is at risk for dental disease. The best thing pet owners can do is to routinely lift their pet’s lips and check for tarter, inflamed gums, or missing, broken, or discolored teeth. Signs of tooth and gum disease include the following:
- Bad breath
- Yellow or brown stains on the teeth
- Heavy buildup of tarter
- Decreased appetite (dental disease hurts!)
- Loose teeth
- Redness or bleeding of gums