Healthy Teeth and Gums
Preventative treatment works wonders in keeping the smile on your pet’s face – a healthy diet, regular toothbrushing and appropriate dental chews, all help to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.
Ideally your puppy should have its first dental check when 4 – 6 months old. Puppies have 28 milk teeth which should be shed by about this age. Once these start to fall out, adult teeth come through and your growing dog will eventually have a full set of 42 teeth. However dental problems can start when baby teeth don’t fall out naturally.
Like us humans, our pets can suffer dental decay and extreme toothache but very often we don’t pick up on the signs that our pet is suffering. Unfortunately some pets can suffer for years without being seen by a vet.
Cats as well as dogs can suffer tooth decay, here are some of the symptoms you may spot in your pet:
- Difficulty picking up food
- Dropping food
- Picking at food
- Swelling on the face indicating abscess
- Red gums at the margins of the teeth, indicating inflammation
- Bleeding gums
- Yellowing of teeth with scale and tartar
- Loose teeth
- Your pet is quieter
You may just assume that your pet is settling down and growing up, or slowing down because of its age but sometimes the mouth is so painful that it affects behaviour. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums which can cause them to bleed as the infection becomes more advanced. Prolonged gingivitis can lead to an attack on the actual structure of the mouth supporting the teeth and eventually teeth will loosen and fall out.
Many pet owners do not realise that infection in the mouth also makes their pet susceptible to infection in other areas of the body. Once pathogenic mouth bacteria get into the bloodstream, they can attack the main organs, such as heart, lungs, kidney, liver and brain and indeed any tissue that has a blood supply.
Simple preventative dental care can ensure that your pet does not develop tooth decay.
Brushing our pet's teeth is the gold standard for prevention of dental disease. It is important to make sure that toothbrushing is fun for ALL concerned - otherwise it won't be done on a daily basis & regular daily toothbrushing is key to prevention of dental disease.
It is important not to use ordinary human toothpaste. This has not been designed to be swallowed and the mineral content may cause problems. Special brushes and toothpastes have been developed that are safe for pet use, both of are available at the surgery.
The bristles of a well designed toothbrush have rounded tips and are sufficiently firm to remove plaque - yet not so stiff as to result in damage to the delicate tissues. The bristles gently clean down below the gum line (into the sub-gingival space) and help to stop the buildup of plaque and calculus. This sub-gingival area is perhaps the most important area of the tooth to clean, infection here can lead to damage to the periodontal tissues and tooth loss. It is vitally important to use a properly designed toothbrush.
With early onset dental problems, scaling and polishing or a tooth extraction under anaesthetic may be all that is needed to restore your pet’s mouth to a healthy condition.
Whilst on the subject of teeth, we see many injuries arising from pets catching sticks or chewing bones. Both can result in injuries to the mouth or teeth and ideally you should train your pet to play with suitable pet toys and to chew on dental chews.
Rabbits and guinea pigs teeth are constantly growing and you should ensure a steady supply of hay to keep them chewing and wearing their teeth down nice and level. Your pet rabbit or guinea pig would benefit from a dental check on a regular basis too.
If you would like more information on dental care for your pet please telephone one of our Veterinary Nurses or receptionists on 01291 672637 or visit www.petsmile.org
Our Main Vet Centre in Usk is supported by surgeries in Caerleon and Pontypool
Which enable us to provide veterinary services throughout Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen including Abergavenny, Gilwern, Goytre, Cwmbran, Chepstow, Blaenavon, Blackwood, Newbridge, Risca, Magor, Caldicot, Tintern and Trelleck.