Periodontal disease is the single greatest challenge in dentistry and it is the most frequently seen condition in the veterinary hospital. Gum disease affects 85% of dogs and cats over three years of age.
This disease of the supportive structures of the teeth is progressive, unrelenting, usually non-regenerative, and incurable. With proper care, however, it is manageable, and one must think prevention rather than cure when thinking about this disease.
Plaque can be deposited on the tooth's surface as quickly as six hours following prophylaxis (dental cleaning). This is why veterinarians recommend brushing you pet's teeth regularly, preferably daily.
Dangers of Periodontal Disease in Pets
The most dangerous aspect of periodontal disease is that build-up below the gum line is not obvious to the untrained eye. It can only be detected by a trained person using a dental explorer. The untrained tooth cleaner will remove material for cosmetic reasons, while the disease process is left untreated to advance above or below the gum line.
Most pets as well do not enjoy fingers and instruments in their mouths and only the veterinarian is trained and skilled in the use of today's sedatives and anesthetics. However, all kittens and puppies should be taught to tolerate their owners brushing their teeth.
What to Expect When You Take Your Pet in for a Dental Examination
During a professional examination, a veterinarian will examine your pet's mouth for early signs of tumors and other infectious or degenerative processes. A pet owner seeking professional dental care can expect the following in a routine dental prophylaxis:
- A thorough physical examination of the pet prior to sedation or anesthesia
- An in-depth examination of the entire oral cavity
- Removal of plaque and tartar above and below the gum line
- Polishing of the sulcus (groove) to remove debris
- Fluoride treatment
- Home care instructions
- A follow-up appointment to re-evaluate the patient's condition and determine long term home care
If you are concerned about your pet's dental hygiene and his or her general health, seeking professional care will not only benefit your pet, it will also assure you that the job has been done correctly, thoroughly, and by a professional.