What signs do I look for?

Believe it or not, dental disease is the most common disease affecting dogs and cats. What are some of the signs of dental disease?

  • Halitosis, or bad breath: The most common cause of bad breath is periodontal disease, which is an infection of the gums. This happens when plaque builds up around the gum line, over a short period of time this plaque hardens into tartar. When this happens it causes the gums to become infected, causing the structures holding the teeth in to breakdown.
  • Tartar on the teeth. When you look at the teeth they should be a nice bright white. The incisors usually will stay like this so do not just look at the front of your pet’s teeth and say they look great. The teeth that are affected the most by tartar are the canines, pre-molars and molars. The only way to get this off and to stop damage to your pet’s teeth is by a professional dental cleaning. Brushing or scraping will not take all of it off.
  • Gingivitis: inflammation of the gums. This will appear as a red line right above where the teeth meet the gums. It can also appear to streak upwards farther in to the gums. This inflammation is due to the infection in the gums. This is what will cause the structures holding the teeth in to break down and cause the tooth to become loose. However if there is a lot of tartar the tooth may not be loose because the tartar is holding it in place.
  • One of the less noticeable signs may be a change in your pets’ behavior. He may all of a sudden decide that he does not like hard food any more. They may just swallow their food causing them to regurgitate it, making it come up whole. They may also choose softer toys and not want to play as much. They may also rub their face on the carpet and salivate more.

Dental disease can cause heart, liver and kidney disease. As dental disease progresses unchecked, bacteria in the mouth can get into the blood stream and can cause damage to the organs rather quickly. Make sure you bring your pet in for a free dental exam every 6 months. Studies have proven that good oral care in our pets helps extend the healthy years of their lives!