The Importance of Dentistry


Periodontal disease is one of the most common diseases in cats and dogs. 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 oral bacteria.  This preventable disease is the number 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, dropping food, pawing at the face or rubbing the face on the floor, drooling, becoming head shy, and painful mouth/face.

Friday is our dental care day, call us for more information.

Veterinarians recommend the following 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.  Brushing your pet’s teeth daily is very important.  We also recommend using a specially formulated dental rinse, and dental chews and food.  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 annual teeth cleaning with x-rays.  This is also very important and ensures we are catching any disease early enough to treat. If it is determined that a dental procedure is appropriate for your pet, we will arrange a time for them to spend the day with us.  Dental procedures in cats and dogs do require a general anesthetic, as a complete dental assessment and cleaning is impossible otherwise, understandably so!!

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

How common is dental disease in pets?

  • 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by age three.
  • Oral disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem in pets.

What are the signs of dental disease?

  • Persistent bad breath.
  • Yellow-brown crust, or tartar around the gum line.
  • Red, bleeding or receded gums.
  • difficulty eating.
  • Loose teeth.

Isn’t bad breath in pets “just natural?”

  • Bad breath in pets is most often caused by bacteria which are responsible for a gum infection.
  • Gum disease can cause pets pain and serious dental problems later in life.

How can I prevent dental disease in my pet?

  • We recommend daily brushing with a toothpaste specifically formulated for pets.
  • This process must be started early to ensure your pet will accept brushing!
  • Another option is a newly available gel and liquid formulation controls tartar and gum disease without brushing. Our receptionists will be happy to discuss these remarkable products with you!

What is better, canned or dry food?

  • Studies have shown that hard kibble is better at keeping plaque from accumulating on the teeth.
  • A Special food is available which is proven to help reduce plaque and tartar. A member of our Health Care Team can provide you with more information.

What are the benefits of a professional dental cleaning by my veterinarian?

  • Many pets have such serious gingivitis, tartar and periodontal disease that they can only be improved by a professional dental exam, scale, and polish.
  • Under a general anesthetic, we thoroughly clean away the stain and tartar from above and below the gum line.
  • The restores your pet’s teeth to a clean and healthful condition, and remove the bacteria causing the infection.

Are there additional benefits?

  • Absolutely! The harmful bacteria involved in periodontal disease are ar a risk to enter the bloodstream, causing distant infection.
  • Premature heart, liver, and kidney failure have been associated with rotten teeth.

If you suspect your pet is suffering from dental disease, contact us immediately. When your pet is suffering, prompt attention is critical!