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Dental calculus (tartar) is a harder matter that accumulates on your pet’s teeth below the gum lines. In the early stages of accumulation, the material is soft (plaque), but it later hardens and adheres to the teeth. Continual accumulation causes inflammation of the gums and eventual recession of the gums and loose teeth. The breath becomes very odorous and the mouth becomes a dangerous source of infection. Untreated tooth and gum disease may allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream and cause damage to the valves of the heart, the liver and lungs.
Periodontal disease is the number one dental problem in dogs, and cats often develop cavities below the gum line that may be hard to detect. These problems affect other parts of the body as bacteria from the mouth disease releases into the bloodstream. In dogs and cats, it can cause heart, liver and kidney disease.
An annual veterinary dental check-up and cleaning (if needed) under a short lasting anesthetic is vital to your pet’s good health. To help control dental disease, you can perform home dental care, such as brushing your pet’s teeth “three times per week”.
Regular brushing and dental cleaning are just as important for dogs and cats as they are for humans. Yet, too often, we overlook the need for dental care for our pets. By age 3, 8 out of 10 dogs and 7 out of 10 cats have developed gum disease. If your pet has bad breath, he/she has developed gum disease.
Other types of home dental care include enzymatic chews called CET chews, specialized canine and feline diets called t/d (tooth diet) from Hill’s Prescription Diet, and toys such as nylabones.
We encourage people to regularly examine their pet’s teeth for signs of periodontal disease, such as swollen, red, or bleeding gums; persistent bad breath; loose teeth or the loss of teeth; pus between the gums and teeth; broken teeth; and any unusual growth in the mouth. Reluctance to eat, play with chew toys, or drink cold water are all warning signs of periodontal or gum disease.