Canine Dental Health
Brushing our teeth daily is a routine that we, as humans, have followed for centuries. We understand the importance of our dental health, so we take extra care in brushing and flossing but what about our pets? Dental health is a huge factor that is often overlooked by owners, and it should be emphasized in their lives too. Neglect in dental care can cause our pets to develop dental health issues over time. It is estimated that majority of pets show symptoms of dental or periodontal disease by three years old! So, what are these bacterial dental issues and how do we prevent them?
There are a few common dental disorders seen in dogs as they age. Some of the more common gum disorders include Gingivitis and Periodontitis.
Gingivitis is a gum disease where the gums become inflamed due to the bacterial plaque. A way to detect this disease is from the color of the gum. The gum changes color from coral pink to red or purple and bleeds on contact. Bad breath is also a common symptom in Gingivitis. If untreated, Gingivitis will progress into Periodontitis. Periodontitis is a more severe gum diseases and damages the gums, ligaments and bone. It is often the result of several years of plaque/ tartar build up. It is an irreversible gum disease that can result to tooth loss and tooth support. Often than not, the upper teeth are affected more severely than the lower ones due to more use of the back teeth. The surface of the cheeks is more diseased than the surfaces near the tongue. These are all in relation to which area of the oral system are more mechanically used in their daily lives. Dogs that have a regular diet of hard kibble develop fewer problems due to the mechanical cleaning effect on the teeth as the food is chewed. Gingivitis is often first noticed at about 2 years of age but can be reversed if treated.
Gingivitis usually can be treated by thorough professional cleaning of the teeth while the dog is under anesthesia. This should include cleaning below the gum line. If gingivitis does not improve, the dog should be examined again in case more extensive cleaning is required. If left untreated, Gingivitis can develop to Periodontitis which usually begins at 4 to 6 years of age and, if untreated, progresses to tooth loss and other complications.
PeriodontitisIn periodontitis, the tissue damage is more severe and includes the gums, ligaments, and bone. It usually is seen after years of development of plaque, tartar, and gingivitis. It is irreversible and results in permanent loss of tooth support. Small-breed dogs usually have more problems with periodontitis than large-breed dogs. Dogs that have a regular diet of hard kibble develop fewer problems due to the mechanical cleaning effect on the teeth as the food is chewed. Back teeth are affected more often than front teeth. The upper teeth are affected more severely than the lower teeth, and the cheek surfaces of the teeth have more disease than the surfaces near the tongue. Gingivitis is often first noticed at about 2 years of age but improves if treated. Periodontitis usually begins at 4 to 6 years of age and, if untreated, progresses to tooth loss.
Periodontitis TreatmentPeriodontitis is treated with thorough professional cleaning above and below the gum line. In some cases, surgery will be needed to gain access to the root surface for cleaning. Your veterinarian can determine the extent of bone support loss by taking x-rays of the jaws. These are usually recommended as a normal part of periodontal disease diagnosis and treatment planning. Extractions are often necessary for dogs with periodontitis. Extractions allow the tissue to heal, and dogs do surprisingly well without the teeth. Dogs that have received treatment for Endodontic disease needs to continue oral care at home.
PreventionBacterial dental disorder, such as Gingivitis and Endodontic disease, can be prevented with effective prevention method at home. These prevention measures are very important for your dogs’ gum health. At-home methods to keep your pet’s teeth clean, such as toothbrushing and diet, along with regular dental examinations, are the best ways to help prevent gum disease. Daily toothbrushing is best but wiping the teeth with a gauze at least every 2–3 days can remove plaque in dogs that do not allow toothbrushing. Only the outside surface of the teeth needs to be brushed or wiped. There are toothpastes made specifically for dog so toothpastes made for people should not be used. Your veterinarian might recommend foods, toys, and treats to help clean plague off teeth.
Source(s): Greencross Vets, VCA Animal Hospitals, PetMD, Sydney Animal Hospital, The Bark