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Preventing Periodontal Disease

ph_Tooth_tartar.jpgPeriodontal disease is the number one disease of pets today. It is a diagnosis common to all pets, in all age groups, becoming more advanced with age. This disease affects 85% of middle-aged dogs and cats, but can affect pets as early as nine months of age. It is, however, a very preventable disease.

Factors that influence the development of oral disease include genetics, diet and home care. Many veterinarians believe that there is no more beneficial procedure for our pets than periodic professional dental cleanings coupled with home dental care.

ph_Tooth_tartar_cleaned.jpgPeriodontitis, inflammation of the tissues and structures surrounding the teeth, not only causes bad breath but more importantly, pain, discomfort and potential tooth loss. A pet with periodontitis can send a bacterial shower into the bloodstream every time they chew. These bacteria can affect the heart valves, lungs, liver and kidneys.

Clinical signs of disease in the oral cavity may include bad breath, excessive salivation, appetite changes, facial swelling, weight loss, pawing at the mouth and behavioral changes. Many of our clients are surprised when we point out dental disease in their pets on physical exam. A thorough oral exam is one of the most important parts of our physical exam. Inevitably, we suggest home dental care and perhaps professional dental care for your pets, depending on severity. Home dental care is a classic example of preventative medicine.

We can't change the genetic code of your pet, but we can significantly slow the progression of dental disease through home care.

We teach all puppy and kitten owners basic teeth brushing techniques as part of grooming and training. Daily brushing is ideal. It takes 6-8 hours for bacteria to attach to the tooth's surface. The bacteria then absorb calcium from saliva and become mineralized, forming tartar or calculus. This is why brushing is recommended daily, to continually break this cycle. While brushing a few times a week is helpful, brushing weekly does not inhibit the formation of calculus. Do not use human toothpaste when brushing your pet's teeth. Human toothpaste may cause tummy upset and the fluoride levels can be toxic to their kidneys. We recommend and sell CET enzymatic toothpaste, in chicken and vanilla mint flavor.

Though there is no substitute for brushing, because it mechanically breaks up the plaque, there are other home care options when brushing simply is not possible. These include swabbing the teeth with medicated wipes, rinsing the mouth with an antiseptic prescription rinse and offering chews, such as CET Enzymatic Chews and Greenies. While chewing on hard crunchy foods and treats may reduce calculus, be aware that chewing on real bones, rocks and even ice can cause fractures of the teeth.

Start home dental care now. Incorporate this as part of your puppy/kitty training program. This is one of the best gifts you can give your pet!