Dental cleanings are important for your pet’s overall health. Periodontal disease occurs when your pet has poor dental hygiene. Periodontal disease can cause severe problems and pain for pets. It can also result in other health problems. Most pets show signs of periodontal disease by the age of three. If your pet develops periodontal disease, it can negatively affect other organs including the kidney, liver and heart.
If your pet’s dental health is neglected, plaque will form resulting in tartar buildup and gingivitis. Gingivitis progresses to periodontal disease when left untreated. Periodontal disease causes chronic pain, gum erosion, missing teeth and bone loss.
Unfortunately, periodontal disease is quite common in pets though it is preventable. Bacteria is the cause of periodontal disease. Bacteria, food, saliva, and other particles are the ingredients that form plaque. Your pet’s immune system views plaque as a foreign object. Therefore, white blood cells are unleashed to fight against the plaque. The bacteria found in plaque signal white blood cells to release enzymes. These enzymes cause gum tissue to break down. This results in inflamed gums, destroyed tissue, and bone loss. Ultimately this pattern will result in tooth loss.
Dogs have more alkaline in their mouths than humans. Alkaline produces more plaque. Dogs are five times more likely than people to have periodontal disease due to having more alkaline in their mouths and not having their teeth brushed daily.
The first symptoms of periodontal disease are hard to detect because there are no outward symptoms. Pet owners generally do not see signs of periodontal disease until the disease has reached an advanced stage. Unfortunately, pets suffer from chronic pain once the advanced stage is diagnosed. Outwardly your pet may not appear to be in distress from chronic pain due to their instinctive nature to refuse to show signs of weakness.
Symptoms of periodontal disease include:
- Difficulty picking up food
- Bleeding or red gums
- Loose teeth
- Blood in water bowl, toys
- Bad breath
- Making noises when eating
- Bumps in mouth
- Blood tinged saliva
- Avoiding having head touched
- Chewing on one side of mouth
- Sneezing, nasal discharge
Untreated periodontal disease can put your pet at higher risk of developing heart, kidney and liver disease. It also destroys bone and could cause a fracture to occur in a weakened jaw. Dental X-rays are the only way to definitively know the health status of your pet’s teeth and gums. You should feed your pet quality food with ingredients that prevent plaque from hardening. Talk to your veterinarian about the best diet to support your pet’s dental health. Offering your pet safe toys and healthy treats to encourage daily chewing and promote healthy teeth will also help prevent periodontal disease. Hard treats that can result in broken teeth or a jaw fracture should be avoided.
According to studies, more than 80% of dogs suffer from periodontal disease by the age of three. As an advocate for your pet’s health, it is vitally important not to overlook the importance of maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings for your pet. Doing so will ensure your pet’s teeth are healthy, prevent unnecessary pain and discomfort, and give them the gift of good dental health.