What’s the scoop on your pet’s terrible breath?
Don’t turn your nose to Fido’s or Fluffy’s bad breath! That odor might signify a serious health risk, with the potential to damage not only your pet’s teeth and gums but its internal organs as well. Adult dogs have a total of 42 teeth and adult cats have a total of 30 teeth. A healthy mouth will consist of white teeth, pink gums and no bad breath. A healthy tooth will be white with a flat, pink gum line. So why are many of our pets’ mouths riddled with bacteria, plaque and tartar which cause bad breath, disease, and pain?
Plaque is a soft sticky film that builds on the teeth and contains millions of bacteria. Plaque forms from ingredients found in your pet’s diet and saliva. Bacteria causing this plaque is constantly forming in the mouth. Plaque turns to tartar in 24 hours. Tartar is plaque that has hardened on the teeth. Tartar can also form at and beneath the gum line which is known as gingivitis, which causes irritation, redness and inflammation. Tartar gives plaque more area to grow by separating the gums from teeth, which can lead to more serious conditions such as periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is an infection of the structures around the teeth, which include the gums, ligaments and jaw bone. The whole mouth is very painful and puts your pet at greater risk for developing other serious conditions such as heart disease. Periodontal disease is more common than you might think. By age 3, 70% of cats and 80% of dogs have some form of periodontal disease. By age 4, 85% of dogs and cats show signs of oral disease, so keep those teeth clean! There are several signs of periodontal disease in pets. Bad breath, difficulty chewing, oral discomfort, and blood-tinged drool are all signs of periodontal disease.
Dental health affects not just the mouth, but the whole body! Not only is it painful, but dental disease can affect the liver, kidneys, and heart. Root abscesses can also cause many issues. If your dog is dropping food, tipping its head to one side, or avoiding eating entirely, a root abscess could be the problem. These are all indicators of severe pain.
Did you know that about 2/3 of the tooth is under the gum line? Most dental disease falls under the gum line as well, which makes it tough to check. Therefore, it’s important to have regular dental discussions with your vet, as well as regular dental cleanings. We must put your pet under anesthesia to do a full oral exam and radiographs. These tools catch many issues like root abscesses, fractured teeth, cysts or tumors in the mouth, fractured jaw, and much more. Anesthesia is safer now more than ever before. We always perform pre-anesthetic bloodwork, as well as an ECG to ensure that your pet is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia.
To prevent periodontal disease, it is important to brush your pet’s teeth regularly. This may sound impossible, but we promise, it’s not! You may have to slowly ease your pet into getting his or her teeth brushed. Sometimes this means just putting canine toothpaste on your finger and letting them lick it off for a few days. Once they are used to the taste, then use your finger to rub the paste on their teeth. Eventually you will be able to use a toothbrush, dental wipe, or just some gauze around your finger to brush daily! Another helpful tool in keeping your pets’ teeth healthy is to have the right toys and treats. Toys or bones that are too hard can fracture or break your pets’ teeth. An easy rule of thumb is that if you can’t dent it with your fingernail, it is too hard for your pet to chew on.
Call us at 30AVet (850) 533- 4318 to schedule a comprehensive oral health exam and treatment. We have extended our February special until the end of March for $100 off all cleanings!
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