Dental Disease in Dogs and Cats
If you were asked to name the most common disease of adult dogs and cats, what would you answer? Heart disease, lung disease, liver or kidney disease? Well, if you said dental disease, you would be correct. Actually dental, or periodontal disease, can affect all of these other organs. Studies indicate 85% of our adult pets have some degree of periodontal disease and small breeds of dogs are closer to 98%!
This disease begins with the formation of plaque, which is a transparent adhesive fluid composed of saliva, food particles, and bacteria. Plaque can form in the human mouth within 2 hours of a dental cleaning. Plaque can form in only 2 to 5 days after a dental cleaning in our dogs and cats. Some dogs and cats are more susceptible to periodontal disease than others, because they produce more plague on their teeth, same as with people, largely due to genetics. If plaque is not removed by daily brushing, the mineral salts in saliva will precipitate and form hard dental calculus, or tartar. The tartar inflames the gums and allows bacterial organisms to grow and cause further inflammation. This inflammation causes swelling of the gum tissue that traps more bacteria below the gum line. The bacteria damages the attachment of the gums to the teeth and eventually leads to destruction of the bone and the tooth falls out.
Even though this destruction of tissue and bone may take 2 to 5 years, the pet will be in significant pain due to the inflamed gum tissue and infection this entire period of time. Also, it is important to realize this infection can be absorbed directly into the blood stream and can be transported to the liver, kidneys, lungs, spine, and commonly the heart. (information in this article is provided by Bob Judd D.V.M.)
As February is Pet Dental Month stay tuned for the specifics of prevention of periodontal disease.