Dental disease is a progressive problem. It starts with plaque buildup on the teeth. The plaque then becomes mineralized into tartar or calculus. Bacteria colonizes the plaque and tartar which leads to gingivitis and periodontal disease which causes gum recession and root exposure. As the structures supporting the teeth become weaker, the teeth become loose and eventually are lost. Bacteria from the mouth may also enter the bloodstream and damage major organs like the heart and kidneys.
Dental care starts at home. Brushing the teeth daily is the best way to prevent tartar and bacterial growth. Oral rinses and dental treats will also help with your daily home care. Prevention is the best treatment.
Once tartar has accumulated on the teeth, a professional cleaning is needed. Your pet will receive general anesthesia for the procedure. An ultrasonic scaler will clean the teeth. The teeth will then be polished to help resist new plaque buildup. A chlorhexidine rinse is the final step.
Further care is needed when periodontal disease is present. Subgingival root scaling will be necessary. Dental radiographs will assist in evaluating the teeth. If a tooth has significant root exposure or bone loss, an extraction may be the only option. The type of extraction needed depends on several factors. Perioperative antibiotic and pain management are part of the treatment plan.
Bad breathe, trouble chewing, bleeding or pain around the mouth are some of the signs you may notice. The problems will only get worse. Schedule an appointment for a comprehensive physical exam and to discuss your pet’s dental care needs.