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The Importance of Dentistry

What is periodontal disease?
Over 85% of dogs and cats have some type of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease simply means that the gums and bone that hold the teeth in place are being destroyed by bacteria in the mouth. This preventable disease is thenumber one diagnosed disease in our pets, yet many animals suffer needlessly. Periodontal disease begins with gingivitis, or inflammation of the gum tissue, which is caused by plaque. Plaque is a mixture of saliva, bacteria, glycoproteins and sugars that adhere to the tooth surface. Within minutes after a cleaning, a thin layer of plaque has adhered to the teeth. Eventually this hardens to become calculus or tartar. Calculus by itself is nonpathogenic - it does not cause disease. However, it does create a rough surface for more plaque to adhere to, and pushes the gums away from the teeth, which increases surface area for more plaque to adhere. Eventually, the supporting structures of the tooth (bone, tissue, periodontal ligament) are destroyed and the tooth becomes mobile and will either fall out on its own or need to be extracted. Signs of periodontal disease are bad breath (halitosis), reluctance to eat, chewing on one side of the mouth, playing less with chew toys, dropping food, pawing at the face or rubbing the face on the floor, drooling, becoming head shy, and painful mouth/face.

Veterinarians recommend the following dental care for pets:

STEP 1: Bring your pet in for a dental exam. Don't wait for his annual checkup if you suspect a problem.

STEP 2: Begin a dental care regimen at home. A dental diet is a great way increase the health of your pet’s teeth. There are also many specially formulated dental rinses and dental chews. Brushing your pet's teeth daily is ideal. Please ask us if you need instructions on brushing your pet's teeth, or if you have any other questions.

STEP 3: Schedule your pets for any necessary dental cleanings as promptly as possible. We take digital dental X-rays at no extra charge on most of our dental cleanings. This allows us to catch many abnormalities in their infancy and deal with them before they become a major health risk.

Periodontal disease and oral bacteria can easily affect other organ systems including the heart, liver, kidneys, lungs and brain.

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